human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Beirut blast: Caritas responds

Caritas Lebanon takes action

Just after 18:00h on Tuesday 4 August, a massive explosion ripped through the port of Beirut, Lebanon.

The cause of the explosion is being investigated and is being linked to 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was being stored in a port warehouse. Damage was extensive and devastating, with reports of windows being shattered up to 24km away from the blast epicentre. Lebanon’s Information Minister has announced a two week of state of emergency.

As emergency services begin to clear rubble and debris the death toll continues to rise. At the time of writing over 100 people are reported dead and at least 4,000 injured. The damage has left up to 250,000 people homeless. Caritas Lebanon immediately responded, with the youth stepping up to volunteer from around the country. Volunteers are assisting with cleaning up rubble and debris, and others collected and distributed essential supplies to those affected by the blast.

A blast of this magnitude is a major crisis whenever it occurs, but it comes in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic and increasing food insecurity in Lebanon. The blast damaged store houses containing wheat which has left many concerned about the availability of food in the country. Hygienic equipment is also essential, not only because of the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but more so because of the risk of toxicity in the air from the ammonium nitrate. Lebanon will need as much international assistance as possible to help them through this crisis.

As first needs assessments continue, immediate support is needed with ensuring adequate access to food and medical supplies. Caritas Lebanon, in partnership with several Caritas organisations around the world, are acting as quickly as possible to make sure these needs are met. Caritas Internationalis will issue a Rapid Response call outlining essential goods and materials needed to help the recovery process.

What happened [on Tuesday] is beyond logic and imagination. Lebanese people are still in shock, mourning the loss of beloved ones and praying for the injured and missing. Grateful and blessed that everyone at Caritas are safe

Rita Rhayem, Director of Caritas Lebanon

Caritas Europa stands in solidarity with Caritas Lebanon and is supporting the emergency response where we can. For more information you can follow developments on the website of Caritas Lebanon or their Facebook page.

Salamtak, Lebanon.