At least 16 Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services and Caritas International, have responded to the August 4 explosion in Lebanon’s port.
The devastating blast which killed at least 154 people and injured about 5,000 others has left victims with an urgent need for shelter, medication, hygiene kits, and mental health services. In response, the groups have mobilized medical teams and relief groups to assist with basic necessities. (Read: Pope Francis Leads Prayers for Victims of Lebanon Explosion)
Lebanon is home to 1 million Syrian refugees. Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut displaced 300,000 people, including…Posted by Catholic Relief Services on Friday, August 7, 2020
On August 4, the whole world was shocked when videos of the devastating blast circulated on social media. The incident started when a fire near the port’s grain silos spread to a warehouse containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate—a fertilizer that can be made into an explosive. (Read: Filipinos Reported Dead, Injured After Beirut Explosion in Lebanon)
Buildings, residential areas, and warehouses were completely destroyed as the explosion caused damage within a six-mile radius. Beirut’s mostly Christian neighborhoods have suffered incredibly as well.
According to Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud, the explosion has caused as much as $10-15 billion in damages with almost 300,000 people displaced from their homes.
Faith In Action
Despite damages to their own facilities, Catholic Relief Services provided aid to the victims. Caritas Lebanon has been offering water and hot meals throughout Beirut. Caritas health centers are also open, supplemented with a mobile medical unit and mental health team. (Read: Caritas and Pope Francis Launch Global Week of Action for Migrants and Refugees)
“Our partners started working right away to make sure people were getting help, even though their own buildings were damaged in the explosion,” said CRS spokesperson Megan Gilbert.
“At CRS we’re privileged to contribute to the overwhelmingly generous volunteer response of the Lebanese people, despite all that they have been through over the past year,” Gilbert said, adding that the CRS is calling for long-term support to victims, many of whom have been “struggling to get by before this explosion.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun promised a transparent investigation into the explosion. (Read: A Prayer for the Nation’s Leaders)
“We are determined to go ahead with an investigation and unveil the circumstances surrounding what happened as soon as possible and hold those responsible and those who were negligent accountable and serve them the most severe punishment,” he said.
The ammonium nitrate had been stored at the port since 2014.