Beirut Blasts: Three Months On
Nov. 4, 2020
The impact of August’s devastating explosions in Beirut continues to be felt three months on. Food supplies are heavily disrupted as a result of damage to the city’s Port and surrounding infrastructure - and rampant inflation means even basic food stuffs are now beyond the reach of large numbers of people.
The World Bank has reported that one million people in Lebanon - that’s one in every seven people - are now living below the poverty line. Tens of thousands of homes damaged in the blasts have still not been repaired - and 300,000 people are still without adequate shelter.
And the impact on children has been particularly significant. Children are more exposed to a number of grave threats to their safety - particularly physical violence and COVID-19 transmission - and the psychological burden they bear is immense. Figures from UNICEF reveal that half of all children directly impacted by the blast - some 600,000 children - are in urgent need of psychosocial support.
Upholding psychological wellbeing
War Child is working with both local and international organisations to provide psychosocial care and support to children and families experiencing shock and continuing trauma.
War Child - together with UNICEF and partner organisations - set up a tent in the downtown Karantina district of the city and offered children vital psychosocial support through recreational activities. These activities were designed to support children to express themselves and begin to process the trauma they lived through.
We were able to reach more than 500 children in the days following the explosions - many of whom joined the activities from far-off areas. An outreach team supported these activities - visiting nearby homes and assessing the urgent needs of families.
Meeting urgent needs
Our efforts to uphold the safety and wellbeing of children can fall short unless basic needs - such as nutrition and shelter - are first met. That's why - as part of UN humanitarian coordination efforts - we have entered into partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs to distribute food parcels to vulnerable families.
The first phase of the initiative in September saw 600 families receive food parcels and hygiene kits - and a second phase this month reached an additional 600 families.
We also worked with local partners to deliver basic food items directly to 626 families in remote areas - including Wadi Khaled, Ribat Beddawi, FoH Koura and the city of Yamoune.
Upholding access to education and protection
Our Lebanon team is continuing to provide children with access to quality education - through innovative remote means. Both our EdTech programme Can’t Wait to Learn and our early childhood education activities have been adapted to be delivered offline - through pre-recorded videos available to view on mobile phones.
With extensive COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in place, we are also using remote methods - such as videos and text messages - to maintain vital child protection services.