Beirut (August 7, 2020) – CARE Lebanon today begins distributing 200 food parcels and hot meals to around 2,400 people in Achrafieh – one of the oldest and worst affected districts in Beirut City by Tuesday’s blast, with a focus on the most vulnerable including the elderly, women and girls, and those with special needs.
“Today we will begin distributing hot meals and food packages including essentials like hummus, rice and tahini to some of the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the Beirut explosion,” says Bujar Hoxha, CARE Lebanon Country Director, “these will include people who are struggling most in the aftermath of the blast such as women and girls who make up around 60% of those affected.”
CARE staff on the ground report that there are thousands of people sleeping on the streets, with search and rescue missions still ongoing. “I have been walking around Beirut for the last 2 day. The damage is terrible, impossible to quantify. It is impossible to imagine what the city will look like after this tragedy,” says Patricia Khoder, Communications consultant, CARE Lebanon, “you hear the constant sound of glass smashing, people continue to fill the streets, I don’t know how long this will go on for. In the districts of Gemmayzé as far as Mar Mikhaël you can only get around on foot, and still with difficulty. The streets are impassable: there are trees in the middle of the road, abandoned cars; their drivers are in hospital or dead. The people I meet are devastated, but the solidarity is incredible, everyone is coming together to clean up the rubble but also to help the elderly who are amongst the most vulnerable. At the moment, we do not yet know how, but we will recover.”
67-year-old Siham Tekian, who lives in Mar Mikhael and whose building was blown away by the explosion told CARE staff; “this is my third night sleeping on the streets. Even on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, right after the explosion, I came back from the hospital, and I, since I no longer had a home, took a plastic chair and I dozed off, sitting on the pavement. Yesterday evening, some young people brought me a sofa and put it on the pavement. It was a broken, dingy sofa, but hey it’s better than nothing. Tonight I’ll be sleeping on the street too.”
CARE Lebanon will focus on immediate life-saving aid in the form or food parcels, cash, psychosocial support and hygiene materials in the first few months, and also longer term assistance in building back with shelter rehabilitation through technical support and cash assistance, longer term psychosocial support and resources to help protect against gender-based violence which can increase after a crisis such as this as tensions increase and thousands are living in temporary and unprotected shelters.
“We are also trying out something new with this distribution,” notes Hoxha, “we are planning to have social workers skilled in providing psychosocial support attend and try and identify and offer assistance to some of those most traumatised by the explosion and recent events. Mental health is still quite a sensitive subject in Lebanese society, but there is no doubt that thousands of people will be struggling with trauma and stress from this tragedy, and as a result of the difficult months and years we face in rebuilding.”
He adds; “We are particularly worried about the impact on women and girls at this time. A gender analysis of the impact of the economic, financial and COVID-19 health crises carried out by CARE Lebanon just before the explosion already showed that 85% of women were eating smaller portions for their meals, compared to 57% of men and that the risk of child marriage for girls had increased as families try to reduce their financial burden by decreasing the number of people they have to feed. We are worried that with this latest tragedy these figures will worsen even further.”
Media Contact—Kalei Talwar, Press Officer