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URDA’s Response to Beirut Port Explosion: Lebanon – August 2020

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Lebanon, a country already reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis, and a surge in coronavirus infections, was struck in the early evening on August 4, by a small explosion and then a massive explosion of a warehouse holding 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon which killed at least 220 individuals, injured more than 6,000 and caused the displacement of over 300,000 individuals.

Beirut was declared as disaster area:

  • The wheat silos were destroyed
  • Chronic medicines strategic warehouses were destroyed
  • Thousands of containers in the port were broken and smashed
  • Port complete destruction
  • Beirut airport slightly damaged
  • Serious damages and destruction to buildings, roads, and cars
  • Five hospitals were totally destroyed
  • Formal buildings are completely damaged like the Electricity of Lebanon HQ, Karantina Public Hospital, a mobile communication service provider, Employees Cooperative Center and others.

URDA’S DIRECT RESPONSE:
Lebanon was in a dire situation even before the colossal explosion which destroyed much of the capital, Beirut, last Tuesday. That blast wave leveled buildings close to the port and caused massive damage over much of the rest of the capital, which is home to two million people. In a matter of an hour, hospitals were quickly overwhelmed, and panic spread all over the capital.

In a country where the government is bankrupt, the currency is almost worthless and millions of Lebanese are unemployed, the explosion made things worse by destroying the main port for Lebanon which relied heavily on food imports.

URDA was one of the first humanitarian organizations in Beirut to respond to this historic humanitarian disaster, where it has a highly equipped Shelter and Relief teams that are ready to respond to emergency cases including natural or man-made disasters. This team has been carrying out the implementation of an urgent response plan that included:

  • Conduct a full field survey of the affected areas and prepare detailed statistics of material and human damage.
  • Organizing a coordination meeting at Beirut’s municipality between Beirut’s Mayor Jamal Itani and URDA’s General manager, during which he offered to coordinate relief work provided by associations and to establish a coordinating committee for associations operating on the ground.
  • The relief and shelter sector are distributing drinking water, bread bundles, hot meals, hygiene kits, and food parcels in the affected areas.
  • Sending several teams to contribute to the removal of debris and glass resulting from the explosion in several streets in Beirut
  • Equipping and operating two mobile clinics to help the wounded in the affected area.
  • Gathered hundreds of volunteers to help support relief teams in the field.
    • Ensure that all necessary precautionary measures are taken, and that masks and gloves are worn and distributed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our beneficiaries, volunteers, and staff.
  • Organizing psychosocial support sessions for those psychologically affected by the explosion of different ages in a tent set up in Martyrs’ Square in Beirut where the sessions are organized by a specialized team.
  • Setting several tents near the site of the explosion to distribute cold sandwiches and drinking water to Red Cross workers, civil defense personnel, and volunteers involved in relief work in the affected areas.

URDA will continue to implement its emergency plan and have just begun with the second phase which includes the distribution of medical supplies and offering house damage repairs.

URDA’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN NUMBERS:

  • 9,165 Food Parcels: 45,825 beneficiaries
  • 2,197 Hygiene Kits: 10,985 beneficiaries
  • 9,900 Sandwiches: 9,900 beneficiaries
  • 13,441 Bread Bundles: 67,205 beneficiaries
  • 7,163 Water Packs: 28,652 beneficiaries
  • 2,247 Hot Meals: 11,235 beneficiaries
  • 50 Psychological First Aid: 250 beneficiaries
  • 750 Mobile Clinic services: 750 beneficiaries
  • 21 House Rehabilitation: 105 beneficiaries
  • Medical Supplies and Medication: 17,155 beneficiaries

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