At 6 pm on Tuesday August 4th in the port of the city of Beirut, Lebanon, two violent explosions occurred, one of which, the second one, had devastating effects.
Lebanese authorities speak of 137 deaths, 5,000 injured, collapsed hospitals and over 300,000 displaced people. The second explosion practically leveled the city port and beyond. Three of the hospitals in the area have been damaged and are currently unusable. Even at a distance of several kilometers, the shock wave destroyed windows, buildings and shops.
“I had just returned from our base in Tyre, in the South of the country, together with a colleague. We were parking when we felt a shock. We immediately thought about the earthquake. Then, a very loud rumble and the shock wave that shattered many of the windows of the buildings around” said Riccardo Mioli, Head of INTERSOS Mission in Lebanon. He continues: “We are all well, fortunately. But we are all in shock. Everyone here knows someone who has been directly or indirectly affected by the catastrophe“. The explosion, in addition to causing hundreds of deaths, caused the destruction of houses, shops, shop windows and cars. People have lost not only their homes but also their economic and work activities.
Lebanon, which had already plunged into a heavy financial crisis since last year which then brought the country to default in March, was completely brought to its knees by the lockdown, during which all commercial activities were closed, blocking the entire economy of the country and depriving the population of any source of income. And now, with this new emergency, there are thousands of people who no longer have a home or work.
“One of our offices is currently unusable, the explosion destroyed all the windows, but we are already moving to restore it and to start distributing emergency aid to the population of Beirut,” adds Mioli. INTERSOS, already operational in Lebanon since 2013 to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in Syria and to help Syrian and Lebanese refugees in vulnerable conditions, is already taking steps to respond to this emergency through the distribution of kits of hygiene materials and protective devices individual for the prevention of COVID-19, threat still present. In addition, we are moving to provide psychological support to those affected by the catastrophe and economic support for the purchase of food and the reconstruction of damaged homes. Displaced children and families who do not have relatives or friends who can host them will be welcomed in protected places such as hotels, apartments and schools: these are the most fragile sections of the population that include Syrian refugees, Lebanese and migrants in conditions of extreme vulnerability.
“We are coordinating with government bodies and solidarity actors to be able to intervene effectively and respond in the best possible way to the needs of the people who have had to live even this latest tragedy on their own skin” concludes Riccardo Mioli.