Children in desperate need of food, shelter and psychological support following deadly Beirut explosion

Media Contact :

Nicole Harris
Public Relations Manager
nharris@worldvision.org
m 404-735-0871

Highlights

  • World Vision aims to reach 120,000 individuals with immediate support
  • USD $5 million needed for the child focused aid agency to respond
  • Fears that port damage will severely impact long term food assistance plans
Beirut explosion: People in Lebanon were stunned by a huge explosion in Beirut port, which caused many casualties and massive destruction throughout the city.
People in Lebanon were stunned by a huge explosion in Beirut port, which caused many casualties and massive destruction throughout the city. (©2020 World Vision/photo by George Mghames)

BEIRUT (August 6, 2020)Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision, is calling on the international community to immediately respond and ensure families and children, who have been left on the streets following Tuesday’s deadly blast, can access shelter, food and hygiene supplies.

The explosion has decimated areas where World Vision has had a presence for more than a decade. The agency has conducted a rapid needs assessment and aims to reach 120,000 individuals with immediate support. This includes food, household items, hygiene supplies. The provision of alternative short-term accommodation and simple household repairs is also a priority right now. The NGO is however, extremely concerned that damage to the port will impact its ability to provide food assistance in the long term.

“Before the explosion part of the assistance that we were providing was the provision of food packages. Most non-perishable foods are imported goods and the majority of them were coming through the port,” explained Hans Bederski, national director at World Vision Lebanon.  “The explosion severely impacts our operations and our ability to continue to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable. Once the stocks that are already in the country have run out, getting new stock into the country will be extremely difficult.”

The international aid agency is providing psychological first aid for children affected by the explosion and is greatly concerned about the immediate and long-term impacts this explosion will have on children.

“It breaks my heart what happened in Beirut on Tuesday. What’s even worse is that children will never forget the magnitude of the destruction and the shock caused by this tragic event,” said Charbel El Khoury, World Vision staff member.

More than 130 are dead, 5,000 injured and an estimated 300,000 have been made homeless. Many families have sought shelter in community and administrative buildings and some have nowhere to go.

Rami Shamma, World Vision’s field operations director for Lebanon, has been on the ground surveying damage and assessing need.  “Seeing the level of destruction took me back to previous experiences of wars and periods where we had violent clashes and assassinations. The scale of impact of the explosion is hard to imagine.

“People are still in shock until now, walking around the streets and surveying the debris of their houses and shops. It is clearly visible that they don’t know where to start from. It is just heartbreaking. However, I also saw people carrying brooms, gloves, buckets, water bottles for distribution, and cleaning the houses/streets. This sense of solidarity brings hope to me. We will be able to come out of this,” he said.

The disaster comes at a time when Lebanon is in the midst of an economic crisis, experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and supporting a large refugee community. Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, with a government estimate of 1.5 million Syrian refugees, some 20,000 refugees of other origins, in addition to the Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate.

“In order to respond adequately and support children and families in desperate need in Lebanon we will need to raise USD $5 million,” Shamma said. “We are calling on international donors and the general public to support our appeal to raise funds; so that we can help the community rebuild and recover. The people of Lebanon have suffered enough. They are strong, but they need the world’s support to survive this tragedy.”

World Vision has been working in Lebanon since the onset of the civil war in Lebanon in 1975 and continues to assist Lebanese families in addition to refugee communities through emergency relief, development projects, as well as advocacy.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.