BEIRUT, Lebanon — On August 4, 2020, there was a massive explosion in Lebanon, killing more than 200 people and injuring at least 5,000 more. A crater of over 140 meters in width was formed by the explosion, damaging numerous houses and resulting in about 300,000 homeless people. The eruption occurred at the Port of Beirut, specifically in Warehouse 12. Many blame the disaster on the amount of explosive ammonium nitrate in the warehouse — 2,570 tons. As the Lebanese confront the severe damages caused by the explosion, many are now suffering at the hands of a failing economy, worsened by a global pandemic.
Immediate Responses From the Government
Angry at the government’s mismanagement of the economy and the explosion, many Lebanese communities turned their anger into mass movements. In many ways, the explosion in Lebanon was a turning point for the country’s mounting economic problems. With more than 160 protests all over the country, violent outbreaks occurred in Lebanon’s biggest cities. As a result, Prime Minister Hassam Diab decided to resign out of respect for the people’s response to the massive destruction. He felt as though he did not adequately protect Lebanese citizens. Therefore, he decided that he was going to “stand with the people” in hopes of finding better leadership that will make Lebanon a safer place.
An International Coalition to Aid the Lebanese
After hearing the news, many countries immediately called for aid to Lebanese victims. For example, French President Emmanual Macron pushed for 30 global leaders to come together and devise an emergency protocol in protecting Lebanese citizens. Over a conference call, the French President was able to accumulate millions of dollars in aid towards Lebanon. Berlin pledged to provide at least $23.5 million, and Britain allocated more than $25 million. France is also providing more than 18 tons of medical resources and more than 663 tons of food packages. Additionally, the United States is donating $17 million to help with the emergency response.
Although governments have directed millions of dollars towards aiding Lebanon, it is not enough. Some experts claim that the damages of the explosion may amount to more than $1 billion. As a result, the United Nations is working hard to establish strong support for the rehabilitation of Lebanon. As of now, the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group are helping to manage the emergency responders in Beirut. These responders were able to deliver 20 tons of health supplies from the World Health Organization, covering more than 1,000 surgical procedures and 1,000 trauma interventions.
Smaller Initiatives To Provide Resources For Victims of the Disaster
While government assistance in rebuilding Lebanon has been significant, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been involved as well. The NGO Live Love dedicates itself to “celebrating and helping the beauty of Lebanon.” Currently, they have more than 1.5 million followers and more than 15,000 volunteers across the nation. With more than 80 partners, including the World Food Program and the United Nations Development Program, Live Love has been able to recycle more than 20 tons of waste. With its new campaign called, “Rebuild Beirut,” Live Love will use donations and volunteers to provide necessities to Lebanese victims.
Similar to Live Love, the Lebanese Red Cross is offering medical assistance to Lebanese victims. So far, they have provided over 300 ambulances, which have responded to more than 140,000 emergencies free of cost. Using donations, the NGO will help victims of the mass destruction in Beirut, as well as injured protesters.
Although the massive explosion in Lebanon is the cause of immense suffering, many sources are ready and willing to help Lebanese victims, especially during these unprecedented times. With COVID-19 and a worsening economic situation, many countries and organizations are sympathetic to Lebanon right now. Therefore, a plethora of initiatives and emergency protocols have been implemented so that the Lebanese people can get the protection and resources they deserve.
– Aishwarya Thiygarajan