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.
Elsharkawi says funds raised through the IFRC Emergency Appeal will go toward the Lebanese Red Cross ambulance service and will support the purchase and delivery of emergency medical supplies, medicine, livelihood support and the rehabilitation of damaged Lebanese Red Cross premises. He says the explosion has killed more than 150 people and injured more than 5000 with some 200 people still believed to be missing.
“The Lebanese Red Cross is already providing emergency shelter for 1000 families and plans to continue sheltering as many as 10 000 families in the coming weeks and months. Trained volunteers and staff are also providing psychosocial support to survivors and are helping to put separated family members and friends back in touch through Restoring Family Links services,” says the regional director.
To donate by wire transfer visit https://supportlrc.app/wire-transfers or via the iRaiser platform go to https://donate.redcrossredcrescent.org/lb/blast-in-beirut/~my-donation.