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Lebanon still in crisis 1 year after Beirut explosion as Christian Aid and partners help thousands

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One year after a major explosion tore through the capital Beirut, Lebanon remains in crisis, with the World Bank describing it “sinking into one of the most severe global crises episodes” and “prolonged economic depression” as Christian Aid and its partners battle to help thousands of those suffering.

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the sudden explosion that ripped through the port of Beirut on 4 August, 2020, sending shock waves through densely populated areas.

More than 200 people lost their lives, and over 6,500 people were injured. Homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals were destroyed with an estimated 300,000 people left homeless.

To date, justice and accountability for what happened is yet to be achieved, with little or no compensation for the loss of loved ones, livelihoods and for people affected by physical and psychological injuries.

Economic crisis

Today, food items cost 5 times more than they did in 2019. People simply can no longer afford to meet their basic needs.

Over half of the Lebanese population are now living in poverty, with the most vulnerable - refugees, migrant workers, children and elderly - bearing the brunt.

According to a recent UNICEF assessment, 77% per cent of households do not have enough food or enough money to buy food, with this reaching 99% amongst Syrian refugee households.

The situation is similarly dire for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. In Nahr al Bared camp, where around 30,000 displaced Palestinians live, Christian Aid has been supporting its partner Association Najdeh’s community centre. The levels of stress, anxiety, violence and child labour are increasing, simply because people are hungry. Also in Nahr al Bared Christian Aid supported Najdeh to distribute food kits during Ramadan.

The people of Lebanon are facing not only a political and economic crisis, but face huge challenges including access to education, fuel, electricity, plus the impact of Covid-19.

Christian Aid’s response

In the year following the blast, Christian Aid partners have worked tirelessly to provide 3,324 of the most vulnerable households with support including cash, food, and hygiene kits.

Families receiving cash assistance are able to buy food, medical supplies and repair damage caused to their homes in the blast.

Our partners are also delivering Covid-19 prevention awareness sessions to try to supress rates of transmission.

In January 2021, storms caused floods and damage to Syrian refugee informal settlements. Many families had to leave their tents and seek shelter in a nearby mosque or neighbouring tents and houses. In response, our partner Basmeh and Zeitooneh supported families who lost their shelters and people living in vulnerable conditions.

Zara Mesbah, Christian Aid’s Lebanon programme manager, said: “It’s heart-breaking to watch Lebanon sink to this state of socio-economic collapse. Corruption and mismanagement have led to an unbearable situation for almost everyone in Lebanon. Whilst people still try to recover from the blast last year, poverty levels continue to rise rapidly. Some people have lost everything, whether from the blast or from the economic crisis. The Lebanese people are incredibly resilient, but what will be the limit?

“We’re very grateful to Christian Aid supporters and all who have donated to the Christian Aid appeal, but the needs are still rising. Lebanon is in desperate need of continued humanitarian support, structural reform and transparency.”

Case study

Vera Nakkour, 70, lives with her grandson at her home just 300 metres from the port.

“What I lived through in the Civil War with my children, I live it again now with my grandchildren,” she says.

During the Civil War, Vera lost her husband. Her youngest child was only one week old at the time. The blast is a stark reminder of those difficult times.

She explains that she was with her grandson at the time of the explosion. “He is traumatized now and when he hears a loud noise, he gets terrified”.

Vera no longer works and relies on support from her eldest son, who also has a family of his own to look after.

Recognised as extremely vulnerable, Vera received cash assistance from our partner Association Najdeh which she used to buy food and medicines for herself, her children and grandchildren.

You can continue to support Christian Aid's work in Lebanon by donating to our Lebanon Crisis Appeal