On August 4, 2020, an explosion in a Beirut port caused havoc and confusion throughout the city: 300,000 people were displaced; 6,000 people were injured; and 190 people were killed. A year later, there are still a lot of questions about what or who caused the blast, and how to prevent it from ever happening again. The government has declared a national day of mourning to commemorate this painful disaster, which is still affecting thousands of families.
“The blast was extremely powerful and devastated many parts of the city; the destruction was everywhere. However, the impact and damage were most significant in poor neighborhoods where people were already living in very dire conditions. Many residents had no choice but to live in what was left of their old houses, which were often seriously damaged by the explosion,” said Tariq Al Bizri, Islamic Relief acting Country Director in Lebanon. “Thousands of people lost their jobs as prominent businesses and companies were also destroyed in the explosion and never re-opened. Unemployment has increased since then, which has worsened the situation.”
The explosion came at a time when Lebanese residents were already facing Covid-19 lock downs, financial crisis, extreme electricity outages, massive trash dilemmas, and even famine.
Islamic Relief has had a long history of serving those in need in Lebanon, and, when this emergency set in, IR teams and donors moved quickly to help, providing aid and support to tens of thousands of those affected, including distributing emergency food and hygiene kits to the survivors to address immediate needs, and set up rehabilitation programs to provide effective aid over the long haul.
And now, a year later, Islamic Relief is still providing support in the form of shelter rehabilitation and distributing food parcels, as well as working on sustainable solutions for vulnerable families facing long-standing economic issues.
This is the power of your donations. Please keep our sisters and brothers in Lebanon in your prayers as they continue down the long path to a full recovery, and continue to support humanitarian work by donating.
Lebanon, once prosperous, was hobbled by a 15-year civil war that cut its national output in half. After the war ended in 1990, Lebanon rebuilt much of its infrastructure, but political instability continued to take a heavy toll through 2008. A period of relative stability and a subsequent revival in tourism helped the country grow economically, and unemployment is a low 6.4%. Still, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese people are unable to meet their basic needs — about 27% live below the national poverty line.
The north of Lebanon has been most severely strained by an influx of refugees crossing the border from Syria due to the ongoing crisis there. 1.5 million Syrian refugees have now been registered in Lebanon—a country whose own population does not exceed 4.4. million. In a country already suffering from weak infrastructure, the high percentage of refugees greatly affects both the economic and social climate.
And now, Lebanon finds itself facing an impending famine: According to a report on Telegraph.co.uk, “There are two initial pillars of food security, explained an official at the UN’s World Food Program. Firstly, having enough food in the country and secondly, people having the purchasing power to access it. Lebanon is facing a double whammy with a hit to both pillars at the same time.” The report continued, “In all corners of the tiny Mediterranean country, the middle class are becoming poor and the poor are sliding into destitution, as food prices are pushed beyond the means of most people.”
This, with the addition of the COVID-19 pandemic and man-made travesties—like the bomb blast in August 2020—exacerbates the hardships that families across Lebanon face.
With all this considered, one thing remains clear: The people of Lebanon are resilient and, with the support of donors like you, families in need there can access opportunities to break the chains of poverty and move toward success.
Islamic Relief has been working in Lebanon since 2006 in response to a humanitarian crisis caused by war. We then focused on reconstruction efforts like hospital rehabilitation and water facility repairs. Islamic Relief Lebanon opened to continue long-term efforts.
Here’s just a sampling of recent efforts for families in need across Lebanon
As much as we’ve been able to accomplish, there is still so much more to do. If we work together—with YOU—we can make the vision of a better Lebanon a reality for so many more of our sisters and brothers in need.
When we met Jaziah, there are no doors or windows on her home, which allowed the cold to seep in.
Jaziah’s family originally worked as farmers on land they owned. They sold their vegetables to shops and earned a living from the money made.
Then came the conflict, and her family was forced to flee into Lebanon hoping for safety. Although they escaped, they had to live in makeshift housing that wasn’t secure.
When asked about how hard it is to stay in their home Jaziah immediately pointed to the nonexistent doors and windows where she said that during winter it feels like being outside. “The owner of the building forbade us from placing door or windows, it’s his right,” she added. “All we can do is put some sheets but it’s better than nothing. We lack food, clothes, and above all a warm place,” she said.
Jaziah’s has five children. She lost one of her boys from a stroke. When we met her, all of her children were working in a butcher shop from the morning till the evening, “They are not well paid, but they help the family with the expenses,” she said. It still wasn’t enough though: Sometimes they would all have to eat from one can because of the food shortage.