BEIRUT, 6 AUGUST 2020 – Some 80,000 children have been displaced by the Beirut explosions, according to UNICEF estimates, with families affected in desperate need of support.
The explosions on Tuesday evening left 140 people dead, 5,000 injured and hundreds missing. UNICEF is concerned that many children have suffered trauma and remain in shock.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life following the horrific explosions in Beirut, and we are increasingly concerned about the high number of displaced children and families,” said Rowena Pinto, Chief Program Officer at UNICEF Canada. “UNICEF is already responding to the refugee crisis and COVID-19 in Lebanon with support from the Canadian government, and with this new tragedy our teams on the ground are providing immediate relief to meet the most pressing needs of front-line workers, children and their families.”
The port of Beirut – where the explosion took place – is the main lifeline of the country. It is now totally destroyed. According to the latest information:
- There are numerous reports of children who have been separated from family members, some of whom are still missing;
- At least 12 primary healthcare facilities, maternal, immunization and newborn centres in Beirut have been damaged, impacting services for nearly 120,000 people;
- A children’s hospital in the Karantina area, which had a specialized unit treating critical newborns, was destroyed. One newborn died;
- The remaining operational hospitals are over-stretched and have been depleted of critical medical supplies;
- 10 containers stocked by the Ministry of Public Health with personal protective equipment were destroyed;
- Five out of seven UNICEF-supported vaccine cold rooms were destroyed in the blast, affecting critical vaccination programmes;
- Many schools have reported damage in Beirut and the surrounding area, with assessments ongoing into the level of damage;
- In the past 48 hours, 464 new cases of COVID-19 were registered.
“UNICEF is supporting the local authorities and partners. Our teams have been working around the clock to provide people affected with much needed assistance,” said Violet Speek-Warnery, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon.
UNICEF in Lebanon is working with counterparts and partners to scale up support to affected children and their families in order to respond to the immediate and medium-term needs, including:
- Drinking water was distributed to frontline responders and those living in the directly affected location around the Beirut port;
- Conducting preliminary assessments on warehouses, schools, cold rooms, water infrastructure and health facilities including hospitals and specialize intensive care unit for newborns;
- An estimated 90 per cent of stored vaccines supplies were rescued from the damaged warehouse in the port;
- Providing psychosocial support to help children cope with bereavement and trauma.
- Supporting the reunification of children who have been separated from their family and the setting up of a hotline;
- Working with youth volunteers helping with the clean-up in different areas;
- Establishing a cash transfer programme for temporary housing assistance for families displaced by the loss of their houses.
To be able to respond to these huge needs, UNICEF immediately requires nearly US$4.4 million.