UCC Disaster Ministries has begun its response to the tragic August 4 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, with a $10,000 contribution toward a multifaceted program to meet both physical and psychosocial needs created by the blast.
That funding was requested by the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), a long-time Global Ministries partner, to help provide food, rent and other essentials to 200 families made homeless in this disaster. (Image at right is from FDCD's website banner.)
FDCD will also offer workshops for those who have experienced a great deal of trauma and distress as a result of the explosion, especially children, including those who have lost loved ones, whose homes were destroyed or who witnessed the explosion.
The explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate warehoused next to a grain silo in Beirut’s port killed more than 150 people, injured another 6,000, flattened apartments in nearby densely packed neighborhoods, and shattered windows as far as 25 km (15 miles) away. The governor of Beirut estimated that at least 300,000 people lost their homes in the blast.
Two critical hospitals located close to the port – Geitawi Hospital in Mar Mikhael and St. George Hospital Ashrafieh– were severely damaged in the blast, further harming their ability to provide aid.
Economists estimate the city has incurred at least $5 billion in damage, at a time already stressed by political and economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left Lebanon under-resourced and less able to respond to other major disasters.
“The full consequences of the explosion on August 4 will not be fully manifested for many months, but the dire need, especially among the most vulnerable citizens of our city, is already clear,” wrote Mrs. Mireille Hamouch, FDCD Vice President, and Mr. Salam Houch, FDCD Emergency Relief Program Coordinator, in the funds request.
“Upon internal assessment and consultation with our partners,” they wrote, “FDCD has created a plan based on the urgent needs of families, the work of other NGOs in Beirut, and our particular strengths as an organization. (Our) interventions … are only the beginning of a long process of healing, but they will provide the foundations needed to begin to help Beirut and its rebuild after an unthinkable disaster.”
In addition to the response that FCDC is providing, the ACT Alliance Secretariat held a meeting on August 18, with its members and partner organizations.
"Of utmost concern was our ability to stand with the people who were harmed in this tragedy, especially while in their homes, and children," said the Rev. Phyllis Richards, Acting Team Leader for the UCC's Global H.O.P.E. Team.
"ACT members are raising funds that will be needed as this response is well outside of the Lebanon Government’s ability to respond," she said. The response will include rebuilding of homes, houses and apartments, WASH and hygiene kits, gloves and masks, cash assistance, food, psycho-social protection, support to churches and Christians in the area, shelter, kitchen utilities, and aid to those made homeless by the explosion.
"Recovering from the explosions is going to be difficult because it is hampered by COVID-19," Richards acknowledged. "But regardless of that, ACT partners are committed to standing with the people of Lebanon and are trying to help children go back to school, and adults rebuild and resume the activities of their businesses."
UCC Disaster Ministries has opened a giving opportunity to assist the people of Beirut. Those needs are continuing to be uncovered, and will take weeks, months and years to repair.
Thank you for helping to make the UCC response a reality.