Bishops’ Appeal Response to Beirut Explosion

Photo credit: New York Magazine

Access a downloadable information page here: Bishops Appeal Lebanon Disaster Appeal

On Tuesday 4th August, a massive explosion ripped through Beirut, killing 157 people, injuring 5,000, damaging 50% of the buildings and leaving 300,000 people homeless.

This disaster comes when the whole country was already on its knees due to its worst financial crisis in decades and its struggles to contain a rapidly increasing coronavirus outbreak.

Excerpts from the Washington Post report: “the rapid devaluation of the local currency and a volatile exchange rate on the black market fueling inflation, shuttering businesses and plunging many people into unemployment and poverty. Imports have become prohibitively expensive as a result, forcing the central bank to dip into its reserves to subsidize wheat, fuel and medicine. Fuel shortages and bread lines have become common.

Beirut’s hospitals are overwhelmed, and some were badly damaged in the blast…For over a year, medical practitioners have warned that the government’s failure to pay money it owes hospitals was endangering public health, and the coronavirus outbreak only made matters worse….Public hospitals have limited intensive care capacity and have at times been forced to turn off air conditioning and delay surgeries due to fuel shortages.”

Added to this Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million refugees since war erupted in neighbouring Syria in 2011. Syrian refugees make up 30% of the country’s population, the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world.

Bishops’ Appeal has long supported Christian Aid and Tearfund partners in Beirut, in their work with vulnerable communities, not least people living with disabilities, people who are refugees, people who have or are exposed to Gender Based Violence and people in need of basic humanitarian assistance such as food and shelter.

Already in April of this year, Christian Aid partner Basmeh & Zeitooneh [Smile and Olive] reported that they had spoken to families who at that early stage [of lockdown]were already reporting having no food, not even bread in their homes.

“Now, the food crisis will deepen further. The grain stores in the port are completely destroyed. The port is the entry way for Lebanon’s grain imports; they import 90% of their grain for the staple Lebanese bread.”

Bishops’ Appeal has already funded the provision of emergency supplies and increased food and hygiene parcels for people who were destitute because they lost their casual labour jobs during lockdown.

Now, as Christian Aid and Tearfund partners assess the damage and the needs, Bishops’ Appeal extends the opportunity to all parishes and individuals who wish to contribute to these vital efforts to do so via Bishops’ Appeal.  Donations can be made online or sent to Bishops’ Appeal, Beirut Response, Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, D6.

Tearfund church partners in the Beirut ask for our continuous prayers saying “Eyes on the Lord, hand to the plough, with faith that He will guide us to safe shores.”

Thank you for your support.