Updated: Feb 9, 2021
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appealed on 9 August for 20 million Swiss francs (US$ 21.8 million dollars) to rapidly scale up emergency medical support and economic relief for survivors of the explosion at the Port of Beirut on of 4 August. The blast, which came during a spike of COVID-19 over the past several weeks in Lebanon, poses an additional burden on an already fragile health infrastructure during a spiralling economic crisis. Hossam Elsharkawi, regional director of the IFRC in Beirut, says aid workers continue working around the clock to support the more than 300 000 people displaced by the disaster with medical treatment, shelter and psychological support. He says the IFRC is working with the Lebanese Red Cross to ensure additional COVID-19 prevention measures are in place for the long run.
“At a time when people have been shaken to their core, this extra layer of support from the international community cannot come soon enough. I see no sign of our Red Cross teams on the ground stopping as they work around the clock to help people suffering from a now triple-layered emergency of economic crisis, COVID-19 and massive explosion,” says the regional director. According to Elsharkawi, the Lebanese Red Cross has deployed emergency medical teams and its country-wide fleet of 125 ambulances to the site of the explosion, rescuing the injured and providing first aid at triage stations. He says Red Cross teams on the ground have been evacuating patients from collapsed hospitals and initiating emergency blood transfusions, while distributing food, water, hygiene kits, mattresses, masks, gloves and other essential relief items to survivors.