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Crisis in Lebanon

The IRC responds to Beirut explosion: live updates

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is responding in the aftermath of a massive explosion that rocked Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday. The blast killed more than 157 people, injured over 5,000 and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. We're providing immediate cash and economic assistance to displaced families. 

The IRC is concerned that the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees from Syria, will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the explosion, even as it faces a COVID-19 crisis

Read the latest on our response in Lebanon and how to help:

Aug 19, 2020

Our Child Protection team in Lebanon are starting to deliver psychological first aid to families and children affected by the blast. Rebecca Mouawad works in the team and described the effects facing families and children as well as her own experience of the blast in our latest article celebrating humanitarian workers.

Aug 18, 2020

Aug 17, 2020

Aug 14, 2020

An estimated 150,000 women and girls have been displaced as a result of the explosion.

As Lebanon faces a dire economic crisis, IRC analysis suggests that 30,000 women were already unemployed—and that countless more have now lost their jobs. It is expected that these compounding crises will leave women even more vulnerable at this desperate time, with many becoming increasingly reliant on negative coping strategies such as skipping meals and incurring debt. Read our latest statement.

Aug 13, 2020

In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. We've posted a new explainer that looks at six things people in Beirut need right now.

Aug 12, 2020

Reports indicate that 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes—one third of them children—and close to 6,000 people injured.

Already, we are providing support through our local partner organisations who were among the first to respond to this disaster. The IRC has been heartened by the natural resilience and solidarity of people in Lebanon to overcome this crisis, but—with the needs being so vast—we are concerned that those of the most vulnerable (Lebanese, migrant workers and refugees alike) will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the blast.

"The needs are rising by the day in Beirut and we are now experiencing a local displacement crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to go home," says Elias El Beam, IRC communications manager in Lebanon. Read his first-hand account of the explosion and his work as a volunteer helping to clear debris from damaged homes.

Aug 10, 2020

Aug 9, 2020

In reaction to today’s donor summit on Lebanon, IRC acting country director Mohammad Nasser said:

"We welcome the support of the international community, but more is required to ensure this is not only a quick-fix to patch up the broken buildings in the city. Before the blast, the economy was already in freefall, inflation was on the rise and COVID-19 had drained the health sector.

Across Beirut, and the country as a whole, everyone was already suffering – vulnerable Lebanese and refugees alike.

"Across Beirut, and the country as a whole, everyone was already suffering—vulnerable Lebanese and refugees alike. People were struggling to pay their rent and to buy food to feed their families. Now, the situation is even worse. The explosion has exacerbated every existing need. The people of Lebanon need a long-term commitment from the international community to help not just Beirut, but the entire country, get back on its feet."

Aug 7, 2020

In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. In a recent survey, the IRC found that 87 percent of households we spoke to said that lack of food was a critical concern for them—and this figure jumped to 97 percent for those with a family member who has a disability. Most have been completely cut off from their sources of income.

IRC president and CEO David Miliband spoke with Sky News about our work in Lebanon: 

Aug 6, 2020

The IRC is launching an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut.

Your gift can help us aid displaced families in Lebanon and support our work in more than 40 countries worldwide. Donate now.

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BREAKING: We're launching an emergency response to provide immediate cash and economic assistance to those impacted and displaced by Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.⁠ ⁠ We're concerned the needs of the most vulnerable, including refugees, will go unmet as the city struggles to recover from the impact of the explosion, as well as facing a coronavirus crisis. That's why we are launching a response to provide cash to those impacted to help them get back on their feet and begin to rebuild.⁠ ⁠ This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink. 300,000 people have reportedly been displaced from their homes as a result of the blast, and an already overwhelmed health system is now being stretched to breaking point. The country was already compounded by major economic needs.⁠ ⁠ We're proud to have worked in Lebanon since 2012, supporting both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities.⁠ ⁠ Today and every day, we stand with the people of Lebanon. Please share this post if you do too - and visit the link in our bio for how you can help.

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“This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink,” says Mohammad Nasser, the IRC's acting country director in Lebanon, where the IRC provides support to Syrian refugees and the resource-strapped Lebanese communities hosting them.

This latest crisis will only further deepen the suffering of people that have already been pushed to the brink.

“The economy has been in freefall for months and everyone in Lebanon—Lebanese and refugees alike—has been struggling. Reports indicate that this blast has displaced 300,000 people from their homes, and an already overwhelmed health system is now being stretched to breaking point.”

Read more from acting IRC country director Mohammad Nasser in our Aug. 6 statement:

"We have been heartened by the natural resilience and solidarity of the Lebanese to overcome this crisis, and we are launching a response to provide cash to those impacted to help them get back on their feet and begin to rebuild. In addition to the catastrophic events of recent days, the Lebanese people have been faced with an economic collapse and increasing scarcity of food, as the country confronts a global pandemic. The IRC’s support will help them meet their immediate needs in the aftermath of this terrible incident.”

Aug 5, 2020

The IRC is monitoring the humanitarian impact of the explosion and working to help affected staff in Beirut.

Inside the IRC’s work in Lebanon:

The IRC began working in Lebanon in 2012, supporting both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese communities. We now implement education, economic recovery and development, and women’s and child protection programs in all regions of the country. We also provide legal assistance and skills training, and work to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Learn more on our Lebanon country page.

Woman signs a piece of paper on a clipboard

The IRC distributes emergency cash assistance to vulnerable refugees and people in need in Lebanon. (North Bekaa, June 2020)

Photo: IRC

Aug 4, 2020

On Tuesday, August 4, a massive explosion, the equivalent of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake, erupted in Beirut, Lebanon. More than 50 people have been killed and over 2,000 injured in the blast. Homes have been destroyed, with ceilings collapsed and glass blown out of buildings.

Beirut in 2016

The IRC provides emergency and long-term services for Syrians and the struggling Lebanese communities hosting them. (Beirut, May 2016)

Photo: Jacob Russell/IRC

Lebanon was already facing economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic—IRC president David Miliband talked to BBC Newsnight about the crises gripping Lebanon even before the explosion:

The IRC has been working in Lebanon since 2012 assisting refugees from Syria and vulnerable Lebanese communities. Our support will help people meet their immediate needs in the aftermath of this terrible incident and get back on their feet.