Crisis watch

Florentine, a young mother in Mozambique, who received assistance from CARE following drought and food shortages
20 August 2020

Lebanon – Beirut explosion and COVID-19

Lebanon is about to enter a two-week lockdown following a surge of coronavirus cases. This further compounds the critical situation in the country caused by the economic crisis and worsened by the Beirut explosion, says Bujar Hoxha, CARE Lebanon country director:

The blast has added to an already critical situation. The warehouse explosion damaged many hospitals. And the medical facilities still functioning are overwhelmed, treating more than 6,000 wounded, and they have a very limited capacity, whether in terms of beds in intensive care units or respirators.  

An estimated 300,000 people were also left homeless by the blast. Many are now living in damaged buildings, temporary sites or shared shelters, with limited access to water and sanitation. The risk of the virus spreading has grown.  

CARE in Lebanon was already responding to the COVID-19 crisis, before the Beirut explosion, with the provision of essential materials including disinfection kits, food parcels, dignity kits (which include items specifically targeted for women’s needs such as menstrual hygiene products) and hygiene kits. Our aim is to offer assistance to the most vulnerable households, prioritising people with special needs, female-headed households and the elderly. Our teams are continuing these efforts throughout the country. In particular, in Beirut sites where we are working on life-saving assistance following the explosion, we have adapted strict COVID-19 measures on prevention and protection so we can mitigate any possible risk as far as possible.

CARE UK is providing two technical experts to support the CARE Lebanon team in responding to the Beirut blasts. Amelia Rule, a shelter expert, is in Beirut to assist affected people with shelter support and rebuilding. Suzy Madigan, Gender & Protection Advisor, will be supporting the team with a Rapid Gender Analysis (in collaboration with UN Women and two local organisations) to ensure that the emergency response addresses gender protection needs.

19 August 2020

CARE’s global response to COVID-19

CARE is currently responding to the COVID-19 emergency in 67 countries. We have directly helped 18.6 million people across 62 countries – and have also reached an estimated 193.7 million people through mass media messaging. People helped so far include:

  • 10.1 million people with health/hygiene messaging through direct communications involving a 2-way dialogue such as community workshops, door-to-door, or government or other service providers
  • 2.6 million people provided with increased access to safe water
  • 1.8 million people provided with hygiene kits
  • 1.5 million people provided with additional food assistance to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 crisis
  • 515,000 people provided with cash or voucher assistance to cushion the impact of COVID-19
  • 3.4 million people provided with updated information on gender-based violence prevention and support services
  • 1.6 million people receiving sexual and reproductive health services
  • 116,000 people trained in infection prevention and control
  • 49,000 handwashing stations installed (with soap and water)
  • 2,295 health facilities supported to provide health services, including sexual and reproductive health services
  • 9 countries supporting community-based surveillance/contact tracing

Get more details about our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic on our Coronavirus page.

13 August 2020

Lebanon – Syrian migrant workers

Migrant workers, many of them Syrians, as well as refugees and domestic workers, were already some of the most vulnerable to Lebanon’s economic crisis. CARE is concerned that their situation is likely now to worsen, as jobs and the economy are further devastated in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion.

As well as food, health, shelter, protection, and multi-purpose cash support, CARE Lebanon’s emergency response to the Beirut explosion will include supporting 500 small and medium-sized enterprises to promote livelihood opportunities for people affected by the disaster.

12 August 2020

Lebanon – Women refugees and migrants

CARE is particularly worried about the thousands of women refugees and migrants affected by the Beirut blasts. According to Bujar Hoxha, CARE Lebanon Country Director:

There are more than 250,000 migrant workers in the country and 200,000 refugees currently living in Beirut – the majority of whom come from Syria. Across the country refugees now make up 20% of Lebanon’s population. They were already some of the worst affected by the economic crisis affecting the country, as they already lack resources or a steady income to afford more expensive food and supplies. On top of this, many were living in temporary shelter and tents even before the explosion, not even homes, and their situation was incredibly precarious.

Hoxha says CARE is particularly worried about women refugees and migrant workers, who since the start of the pandemic, and due to their unclear legal status, have less access to safe spaces and legal support in cases of gender-based violence. Hoxha adds:

Beirut also has thousands of domestic workers – predominantly women – who have come from oversees and are entirely dependent on the whims of their employers. Even before this latest explosion, many were being put out on the streets as their employers became poor overnight due to hyperinflation. This is only likely to increase as the explosion has destroyed thousands of homes and livelihoods.

Preparation of meals for a food distribution in Beirut
Hot meals being prepared for distribution in Sin el-Fil, one of the worst-hit neighbourhoods of Beirut. Distributions of food parcels and hot meals are being done door-to-door and for collection at distribution points.

As of 11 August, CARE has distributed food packages and hot meals to 1,850 of the worst affected individuals, and plans to have assisted 6,000 people by the end of Wednesday 12 August. Hoxha says:

We have made sure to put the needs and special requirements of women and girls at the heart of our emergency response, and are doing our best to listen to them on what it is they most need, and make sure we promote their voices in decision making processes going forward.

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10 August 2020

Lebanon – Beirut explosion

Emergency workers search damaged building in Beirut
Emergency services search a damaged building for survivors (photo taken 6 August 2020)

CARE has been distributing food parcels in neighbourhoods devastated by the massive explosion at the port of Beirut. As a first step, 1,100 food parcels are being distributed, in cooperation with local civil society organisations. This includes house-to-house distributions. We aim to provide food parcels and hot meals to an initial target of 20,000 people.

CARE is also planning a multi-purpose cash response to meet urgent shelter needs, as well as providing hygiene and dignity kits and psychosocial support as people recover from this incredibly traumatic event. The explosion has exacerbated what was already a serious humanitarian situation, including an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. We are also planning livelihoods and small business support in response to the worsening economic crisis.

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