Lebanon: 13,000 Beirut blast victims helped through EU-NGO partnership

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BEIRUT, 17th May 2021 - In the wake of the Beirut port blast, the European Union (EU) provided EUR 5 million in humanitarian support to 5 organisations to address the emergency needs of more than 13,000 affected people between October 2020 and April 2021.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “*After first providing disaster relief, the EU was committed to meet the emergency needs of people directly impacted by the explosions. It was important to support capable humanitarian organisations on the ground and address the inhabitants’ most urgent needs: shelter, psychological help or cash for food and other essentials*.”

Over 7 months, an EU-supported consortium consisting of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) ACTED, Arcenciel, Lebrelief, Concern Worldwide and Intersos provided shelter rehabilitation for people’s homes, psychological support as well as emergency assistance to small and medium businesses.

Mona, a Lebanese resident of Mar Mkhael neighbourhood in Beirut said: “The NGO consortium did all the needed repairs after the explosion: doors, windows, tiles and even the bathroom. We really appreciated their work. We did not want to leave our house, all our memories are in it. The wooden door flew across the room, it was chaos, glass and furniture pieces everywhere. We could not have done the repairs ourselves; we did not have the energy or the money.”

Over half the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line, in addition to about 1.5 million Syrian refugees who are mostly living in extreme poverty. People’s ability to work has been hampered due to the severe economic crisis and COVID-19 lockdowns. The decline in income and galloping inflation have led to a drastic decrease in purchasing power. The NGO’s emergency response is funded by the EU for a third year in a row. From October 2020 to April 2021, the NGOs achieved the following results:

  • 1,600 homes were rehabilitated, allowing people to live in safe and dignified conditions. Among a wide variety of shelter repairs, ramps were also installed for disabled beneficiaries. Throughout its intervention, ACTED ensured that beneficiaries were able to decide and choose themselves which rehabilitations were needed.

  • 91 micro, small and medium businesses affected by the blast received emergency cash assistance to help them recover quickly. In addition to the blast, businesses also faced an unprecedented number of crises that pushed many to the brink of collapse.

  • 987 at-risk people were given psychological support. The explosion took a heavy toll on already mounting mental health issues. Many blast-affected people relied on negative coping mechanisms and suffered deeper trauma. The consortium handled cases related to child protection and gender-based violence, assisted isolated elderly and supported undocumented migrants.

  • 2,645 individuals received legal advice on their rights as tenants in the blast-affected areas in a context of increased tensions between landlords and tenants. Many people who are now unable to pay rent live in constant fear of eviction.