FOLLOWING the massive explosion in at Beirut’s port yesterday which has killed at least 100 people and injured some 4,000, Christian Aid – which works in Lebanon alongside partners – has expressed its horror at the scale of human suffering caused by the blast, and echoed the widespread concern that it could further destabilise a country that was already facing an economic and political crisis.
Máiréad Collins, Christian Aid’s Senior Advocacy Advisor on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, said:
“The horrific and shocking explosion in Beirut comes amid what was already a perfect storm in Lebanon of displacement, pandemic, civil unrest, government corruption and economic crisis.
“This morning our partners are waking up to devastation in Lebanon’s capital city. There are scarcely any homes that are not damaged, with many destroyed; businesses and livelihoods were wiped out in seconds.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has already exposed the Lebanese workforce to a steep drop in living standards. As many as 75% per cent of Lebanese workers are in the informal sector, and the proportion is higher for Syrian refugees. These people have no social protection to help them weather the economic crisis. Already in April of this year, our partner Basmeh & Zeitooneh [Smile and Olive] reported that they had spoken to families who at that early stage were already reporting having no food, not even bread in their homes.
“Now, the food crisis will deepen further. The grain stores in the port are completely destroyed. The port is the entryway for Lebanon’s grain imports; they import 90% of their grain for the staple Lebanese bread.
“This explosion has made a very dire situation worse – with a growing number of Lebanese vulnerable to destitution – and could not have come at a worse time for the besieged country.”