Islamic Relief Lebanon Country Director, Nidal Ali, said:
‘All of us in Beirut are still in shock after yesterday’s explosion. I was at home and the glass doors of our balcony shattered – at first we thought it was an earthquake.
‘This is yet another tragedy for a country that is already deep in crisis on multiple fronts. The economy is the worst it has been in decades, with nearly half the population living below the poverty line and 35% of people out of work. Many of Lebanon’s population are refugees who have struggled for a long time. But now even middle-class families have been fighting to put food on the table. For nearly a year, all people have been concerned with is, ‘how am I going to eat tomorrow?’
‘In October last year, we had to put all our long-term programmes on hold and prioritise food parcels as the economic crisis became a humanitarian emergency.
‘This was all before the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill earlier this year. Lebanon has seen a spike in cases over recent weeks, and hospitals are overrun.
‘Islamic Relief has already started its response – we are looking at providing drinking water and food for people who have lost their homes. In a few days, we will also start helping to clear the streets of the debris caused by the blast, providing people currently out of work with cash to help out. Longer-term we will need to continue providing food parcels, as the seaport has been destroyed, meaning food imports will be significantly reduced to a country that is already on its knees.’
Islamic Relief has been working in Lebanon since 2006, supporting refugees and others living in poverty with livelihoods.