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Staff Writer Aug 31, 2021

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BEIRUT EXPLOSION AFTERMATH: OUR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Staff Writer | Aug 31, 2021

,

Reading Time: 3 minutes
17-year-old Celine next to her mother, sister recall being unable to sleep for weeks after the explosion
17-year-old Celine next to her mother, sister recall being unable to sleep for weeks after the explosion

The Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020, devastated a city that was already experiencing tremendous socioeconomic challenges. Hundreds of thousands of people were affected as homes, businesses, schools and lives were damaged or lost.

CANADIANS AND THE HUMANITARIAN COALITION TAKE ACTION

With our partners in the Humanitarian Coalition, the support of the Government of Canada and with generous supporters across Canada, we could respond swiftly to provide emergency relief and implement recovery programs, putting children’s safety and well-being first. Together, we have already supported over 100,000 people affected by the Beirut explosion.

Khouloud, 5, and her family were relocated to a safe home and supported by psychologists.
Khouloud, 5, and her family were relocated to a safe home and supported by psychologists.

SAFETY AND SECURITY OF CHILDREN TOP PRIORITY IN BEIRUT RESPONSE

Our primary concern is always the safety and security of children and their rights, particularly of girls who are often hardest hit in crises.

In our response to the disaster, we worked in partnership with other relief organizations to address the immediate needs on the ground.

Many girls and their families who were displaced by the explosion were then forced to live in dangerous, shared accommodations with no locks, shattered windows and unreliable electricity, leaving them in the dark and at risk.

Girls’ and boys’ mental and emotional well-being was also affected as they suffered from distress and displacement, which put them at greater risk of experiencing violence, abuse and exploitation—especially those who found themselves separated from their parents.

Plan International and our Lebanese partners provided protective, one-on-one case management and even online psychosocial support to hundreds of survivors. We also delivered psychosocial support kits directly to children with the items needed for the psychosocial sessions, which included music, dance, arts, drama and cultural activities.

SAFEGUARDING EDUCATION AFTER THE EXPLOSION

Rehabilitation of the 160 damaged schools was a priority for the school year, in addition to ensuring that children have access to necessary school supplies.

Reconstruction work has included repair of damaged doors and windows, electrical work and repair of toilets and the sewage system. In addition, to prepare for the new school year, we are distributing school supply kits to 16,500 students across 37 public schools.

BEIRUT AFTERMATH: MEETING FAMILIES’ HEALTH AND HYGIENE NEEDS

Damage sustained during the blast also affected water storage systems and resulted in the loss of basic hygiene items for many families, particularly while waiting for shops to be repaired and reopened. Plan International provided hygiene kits with critical household items such as menstrual pads, diapers, bars of soap, shampoo, laundry washing powder, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning liquid and towels. For families struggling to access basic necessities, these essentials made a profound difference.

Plan International and our supporters helped provide aid like:

  • 1,100 hygiene kits, containing menstrual pads and diapers, and COVID-19 prevention items to those in the hardest-hit areas of Beirut
  • 20,000 prenatal vitamins such as Vitamin D and Zinc to health centres
  • 3,400 reproductive health supplies to health centres

BEIRUT EXPLOSION: BEFORE AND AFTER

One year later, Beirut, and Lebanon as a whole, are still facing extreme challenges. While the collective humanitarian response had a great impact, The Beirut “before and after” story is not yet finished. The country is dealing with hyper-inflation and currency devaluation, continued political crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, another explosion in northern Lebanon on August 15 that caused a severe fuel shortage and extended blackouts. The number of people living in poverty has risen from 30% to over 50%, and the cost of living is five times higher than it was a year ago.

Plan International will continue to support the communities in Beirut and other communities in crisis through their long-term recovery to build back better in the aftermath.