Article by Dorcas
In the past three months, Dutch humanitarian aid and development organisations CARE, Cordaid, Dorcas, Save the Children, Stichting Vluchteling and World Vision have collaborated to help Beirut recover from the damaging explosion in partnership with the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA). Activities to recover include distributing food and water, repairing houses and companies and offering trauma counselling. Over the past months, the organisations worked very hard on this joint response, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but in the upcoming months, there is still a lot of work to be done in this Lebanese city.
On August 4th 2020, an enormous explosion in the port of Beirut resulted in unforeseen damage. Thousands of people were injured and unfortunately, almost 200 people died. Hundreds of thousands of people have damaged homes, even as companies and shops, and many lost their homes in just a few seconds. This all resulted in unforeseen chaos and amount of damage.
After the disaster, there was an acute need for clean water and food. Therefore, the DRA installed water tanks and distributed more than 1200 food packages to the affected people. Due to, amongst others, the economic crisis in Lebanon, food assistance is still needed. About 200 people still receive a warm nutritious meal five days a week.
One of the main types of assistance provided by the DRA is to repair homes and this has recently started after a careful and precise preparation phase. At this moment, more than 35 homes are repaired and in the upcoming weeks the DRA will continue with this work since colder temperatures are coming in due to the winter season. Next to the decline in temperature, a decent house where doors and windows can be closed is also of great importance for the safety of women and children.
Because of the amount of damaged shops, 55 entrepreneurs have received financial support to repair this damage. These entrepreneurs aim to get their own business up and running again so that they can provide their income.
Besides the assistance of food and water, the reparation of homes and cash for entrepreneurs, the need for psychological support should not be overlooked. Quite a number of residents of Beirut have been traumatised due to the explosion in the port of this city and the amount of damage it has done. These people in need of support have lost their feeling of safety and security. Psychosocial workers have given trauma treatments to over more than 500 children and almost 2000 adults.
The amount of COVID-19 infected people in Lebanon has been very high in the past couple of weeks; every day around 2000 new cases are reported and this is only increasing. In the collaborative assistance of the DRA, information is provided about hygiene. By giving this education, the focus lays on the prevention of the spreading of the virus by explaining the importance of washing your hands, the use of face masks and physical distancing. More than 7000 citizens are reached with this educational program and the interest in this is high which is seen back in the number of questions that are asked by the citizens of Beirut.
In addition, materials such as soap are handed out that are of great importance in regard to hygiene. In this intervention, women and girls receive special hygiene packages for their personal hygiene.
There is already a lot of progress seen, however in the upcoming months the DRA continues with providing assistance to the people who need it the most. Interventions such as food security, housing, the improvement of income, hygiene, and educational information to work on the prevention of COVID-19, will be focussed on the most. The humanitarian aid support of the DRA will continue until the end of January 2021.
The Dutch Relief Alliance is an alliance of humanitarian and development organisations in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In times of major international crises, these organisations come together to develop quick and effective assistance of high quality. These collaborative responses are financed by the MFA.
Six DRA organisations are involved in the joint response of Beirut, these are Cordaid, CARE, Dorcas, Save the Children, Stichting Vluchteling and World Vision. The response is led by Dorcas.