At least 137 people killed, 5000 wounded and 200,000 homeless is the preliminary tragic account after Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut. The damage is enormous, so is the need for aid.
The damages on Buildings in Beirut, hospitals included, are enormous. Despite situated several km from the explosion, NPA’s office in Beirut had its windows and doors blown in. Luckily none of NPA’s staff got hurt in the incident. Warning has been sent out that more buildings may collapse, and it is expected that thousands of people will be homeless for months to come.
"The situation is chaotic and uncertain. At the moment we are working to capacity getting an overview over extent and needs that must be covered", says NPA’s Secretary General, Henriette Westhrin.
"Human suffering and material damage are enormous; the latest reports indicate that over 200 000 people are homeless. They need food, water and housing. We are looking into what we can do in terms of relocating efforts and staff in Lebanon. We have also started a fundraising campaign in Norway. The response has been overwhelming: In less than 24 hours we have raised over 1 million NOK. This tragedy has undoubtedly awoken a lot of sympathy for the Lebanese people."
Another stone to the burden
In Lebanon, NPA work both long term and with the current humanitarian crisis the country is facing. Economic collapse, increased lack of food, the refugee crisis and COVID 19 has brought about an extreme challenge to the Lebanese people. The explosion has added yet another stone to this burden, Westhrin explains.
"Yet it is vital for us to continue the long term effort to redistribute power and resources and strengthen the democracy. The country’s leadership must be held responsible. There is no quick fix for Lebanon’s problems, so parallel to providing critical humanitarian help, it is important to continue supporting the work that can influence the actual cause of conflict and inequality in Lebanon."
Extensive inequality and a corrupt elite have taken its toll on the country. In addition, Lebanon is dealing with over a million refugees from Palestine and Syria. The country’s health services was already kneeling as a result of the Corona pandemic, which has hit Lebanon hard.
Lack of trust for corrupt politicians and the economic crisis in Lebanon made people take to the streets in 2019, protesting against increased living costs. The lock down following the corona pandemic has had devastating impact on the economy of ordinary people.
"NPA cooperate with partners who are delivering food to the most vulnerable, and in the wake of the Beirut explosion, the need for food support will undoubtedly increase. Lebanon is a small country, and this affects everyone", Westhrin says.
NPA has been present in Lebanon since 1982 with long-term development work and humanitarian assistance. Since 2006 we have also been clearing mines and cluster munitions in the country.