Thousands Left Homeless & in Need of Food and Water After Beirut Explosion

Beirut Explosion - Action Against Hunger

Buildings are in ruin due to the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

The August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut has disrupted basic water and sanitation services in many of the city’s neighborhoods, including Burj Hammoud, Jdeideh, Sin El Fil, Jal el Dib, and Zalka. More than half of the city’s hospitals report equipment shortages, and 37% were moderately or severely damaged in the blast.

Many families are depending on the distribution of clean water, hygiene kits, and disinfection supplies as water and sanitation networks are being rebuilt. In addition, protests continue even after the government resigned on August 10.

“Our priority right now is to support affected hospitals, primary healthcare centres, and vulnerable families, and to repair water facilities,” says Beatriz Navarro, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director in Lebanon. “We are paying close attention to the impact of the resignation of the government, which may directly affect our work by increasing bureaucratic hurdles in humanitarian aid and other key areas.”

Our team in Lebanon is assessing the situation to respond to the needs of people who were already suffering the consequences of a multi-sectoral crisis: social, political, economic, health, and refugee.

Excavators and trucks clearing out the debris.

“Our teams are already on the ground working to remove and dispose of debris through the deployment of excavators and trucks, in coordination and support with local actors and volunteers,” adds Beatriz. “As humanitarian needs change, we will be repairing water and sanitation structures while distributing essential non-food items. We are coordinating with several partners to respond and meet urgent needs.”

Beirut Explosion
Results from the recent explosion in Beirut.

As the city clears rubble, COVID-19 cases are rising by the day. Since August 4, more than 700 cases have been reported in Lebanon – increasing the previous caseload total by one third – and 87 people have died of the novel coronavirus. With more than 300,000 people left homeless by the explosion, prevention practices and social distancing measures are very difficult to adhere to, facilitating further community transmission of the virus. We have adapted our emergency response to integrate health and safety measures to ensure that our teams and the people we serve are protected from the spread of disease.

In the days and weeks ahead, we plan to support the most vulnerable displaced families with cash transfers, helping them pay for housing and immediate needs. The explosion destroyed 85% of Lebanon’s cereal reserves, and we anticipate that food shortages will affect much of the country. Our teams are focusing on ensuring that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under five receive nutrition they need.