“All members of Relief International’s staff in Lebanon are safe and accounted for, though some colleagues suffered minor damage to their homes. I’m so relieved they’re safe. Our teams have been flat out supporting communities affected by the country’s staggering economic crisis, the Syrian crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. So many more Lebanese families and Syrian refugees are pushed to the edge of poverty and despair. Relief International’s work in the country has never been more critical,” says Relief International Chief Executive Officer Nancy E. Wilson. “We have taken all precautions to support our team in Beirut and across Lebanon in the wake of this explosion to ensure their safety as they continue their life-saving work.”
Relief International’s Lebanon operations focus on responding to the pandemic by supporting isolation for populations in overcrowded settings and equipping hospitals in the Bekaa Valley, home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families. We are providing hospitals with medical equipment for treatment, and sharing accurate information about symptoms and preventative measures for COVID-19 to families most at risk.
“I was at Relief International’s office in Beirut when the explosion rocked the city. We saw a fire from the building’s windows and smoke billowing in the sky. That’s when we knew that the country will need urgent help as we not only recover and rebuild the city, but also to address the crushing poverty brought on by the country’s economic collapse and threat of COVID-19,” says Relief International Country Director for Lebanon Valerie Rowles.
As COVID-19 cases surge across Lebanon, the country’s hospitals were already struggling to provide critical healthcare services for patients who have tested positive for the virus. The country imposed strict COVID-19 restrictions last week, shutting down places of worship, cinemas, bars, and popular markets after a sharp rise in infections. This incident adds a further strain on an already overstretched health system as dozens report injuries from the blast.
It is not immediately clear what set off the blast, but we know that it will take additional resources to respond to this latest disaster. We are calling on the international community to step up its support for humanitarian programming in Lebanon at this time.
“Relief International’s teams have been dedicated to providing cash assistance, healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and other lifelines to communities in Lebanon for more than a decade, and we rededicate ourselves to that work in the wake of this tragedy,” says Rowles.
Relief International is an international nonprofit organization that partners with communities in the world’s most fragile settings across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. We have worked in Lebanon for more than a decade providing healthcare, cash assistance, education, and responding to humanitarian crises as they arise.