Devastation in Beirut, and a plea for help

This week a terrible explosion occurred in the port of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. Well over 100 are dead, thousands are wounded, and the city is heavily damaged. This is a city that certainly knows explosions- for most Americans, we think of the Lebanese Civil War, or maybe the Syrian occupation, or the Israeli attacks on the country, which have all happened in the past four decades. This time, it appears that the cause was an accident, fueled by gross negligence when 2,700 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer was allowed to be kept in a warehouse in poor storage conditions in the port for over six years. That’s what blew up. For reference, the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 was conducted using two tons of the same material.

Before the blast, it was already caught in a financial and political crisis, as well as a COVID crisis. I spent two weeks in the country in 2018 and consider it a true gem that deserves better than the world, and especially Lebanese politicians, give it. Her people are among the friendliest and most generous that I’ve met. The Lebanese countryside is simply gorgeous, and the history is uniquely unlike any in the region.

Lebanon needs help. I am going to reprint a recent New York Times article on how to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding of this city and nation, for those with an NYT subscription (copyright be damned). Thanks for anything you can do.

How to Help Lebanon After Beirut Explosion

As the search for survivors continues, aid groups have mobilized to help the thousands of people wounded by the blast, and the hundreds of thousands of others who have been made homeless.

By Elian Peltier

The enormous explosion that leveled parts of Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday killed at least 137 people and injured more than 4,000 others, overwhelming the authorities and damaging many hospitals and critical facilities.

Rescue workers were struggling to treat the wounded in the aftermath of the blast, which was powerful enough to be felt more than 150 miles away in Cyprus.

As the desperate search for survivors continues, with teams scouring through rubble from homes, twisted metal from cars, broken windows and other debris, groups around the world have moved to help. For those looking for ways to give support, here is a list of 10 organizations and initiatives operating in the country.

  • The Lebanese Red Cross is the main provider of ambulance services in Lebanon, and said it would dispatch every ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa and South Lebanon to Beirut to treat the wounded and help in search-and-rescue operations. You can make a one-time contribution here. The British Red Cross has also set up an emergency fund.
  • The United Nations’ World Food Program provides food to people displaced or made homeless after the blast. Lebanon imports nearly 85 percent of its food, and the port of Beirut, the epicenter of the explosion, played a central role in that supply chain. With the port now severely damaged, food prices are likely to be beyond the reach of many. You can donate here.
  • The nongovernmental organization Humanity and Inclusion has 100 workers in Lebanon, including physical therapists, psychologists and social workers. They are focusing on post-surgical therapy in Beirut following the explosion. You can make a single or monthly contribution here.
  • International Medical Corps is deploying medical units and will provide mental health care to those affected in Lebanon. The humanitarian aid organization also provides health services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and vulnerable Lebanese. You can donate here.
  • Islamic Relief, which specializes in food aid and emergency response, is helping to put a supply chain in place for emergency aid in Beirut. You can donate here.
  • In a study released in late July, Save the Children warned that over 900,000 people, including more than 550,000 children, did not have enough money to buy basic goods like food. With the situation likely to worsen after the explosion, they have launched a Lebanon’s children relief fund, to which you can donate here.
  • UNICEF, the United Nations agency specializing in aid to children, is providing medical and vaccine supplies in Beirut, and supplying drinking water to rescue workers at the Beirut port. Its on-the-ground team is also counseling children traumatized by the blast. You can donate here.
  • Impact Lebanon, a nonprofit organization, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help organizations on the ground, and is helping to share information about people still missing after the explosion. The group had raised over $3 million as of Wednesday and donated the first $100,000 to the Lebanese Red Cross.
  • The health care organization Project HOPE is bringing medical supplies and protective gear to Beirut and assisting the authorities on the ground. A donation page is available here.
  • Over 300,000 people in Beirut were displaced from their homes by the explosion. Baytna Baytak, a charity that provided free housing to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is now raising funds with Impact Lebanon to shelter those who have been displaced.
  • For those in Beirut, here is a list of urgent blood needs. Several social media accounts have also been set up to help locate victims.