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UK Muslim charities rally in aid of victims of Beirut explosion

28th Aug 2020
UK Muslim charities rally in aid of victims of Beirut explosion

Muslim Hands (left) and Human Appeal emergency workers on the ground distributing emergency parcels including food to people affected from the Beirut Port explosion, they are among several UK-based Muslim charities to immediately respond to the disaster. which struck Lebanon on August 4.

(Courtesy of Muslim Hands & Human Appeal)

#Elham Asaad Buaras

UK Muslim charities have rallied in aid of victims of the Beirut Port warehouse explosion in Lebanon on August 4 that left 300 people dead.

Three health facilities were destroyed with a further two damaged, and many are overwhelmed, not only with casualties but also because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Hospitals are operating beyond their capacity to treat the wounded as over 5,000 people were admitted to different health facilities on the first day alone.

Approximately 300,000 people were left homeless and the number is likely to rise as more buildings are starting to collapse. The closure of the port threatens food security in Lebanon.The explosion has exacerbated the already severe economic crisis in the country.

For months many Lebanese families were struggling to survive as the Lebanese currency value dropped, and the unemployment rate passed 30 per cent. Nearly half the population is living below the poverty line.
Many have lost their jobs entirely, and those who are still in work have seen incomes drastically cut. This hasn’t just affected Lebanese people, as the large Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities have suffered the same problems.

A week after the explosion, international donors pledged £227 million in aid for Lebanon at a virtual summit on August 9 hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

A joint communiqué underscored their concerns about corruption, saying that the assistance should be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency.”

The donors said further assistance was dependent on Lebanese authorities fully committing to “timely measures and reforms expected by the Lebanese people.”

Islamic Relief has pledged $5 million (£3.8 million) in emergency funding to help the people of Lebanon recover from the huge explosion.

Nidal Ali, Islamic Relief’s Lebanon Country Director, said, “Our main goal right now is to provide food and water to those who need it urgently. We started distributing ready-to-eat meals, essential non-food items, hygiene kits and health assistance.

Our team was on the ground clearing the roads with volunteer groups and other aid organizations, as well as many ordinary residents just doing what they can.”. Islamic Relief Lebanon is aiming to provide 7,500 people with food parcels for the next two months as well as non-food items such as lamps, fans, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and blankets for 10,000 people.

As part of its first phase response in partnership with Islamic Welfare Association, Muslim Hands distributed over 1,000 emergency packs to 1,000 households, supporting 6,500 people affected by the explosion.

The emergency packs consist of essential items such as food and water and will be distributed to vulnerable households that have been directly impacted, such as those who are homeless, living in severely damaged homes, and households supporting elderly and disabled relatives.

The second phase will include distribution of medical kits — which will include medicines for those who are chronically ill and potentially increasing emergency food packs.

Third phase could potentially include rehabilitation and helping with the reconstruction of those who have lost their homes, however this is very much dependent on what the government decides in terms of providing funding for this.

For 9 years Muslim Hands has been actively working on the ground in Lebanon supporting the country’s 1.7 million refugees with food and winter essentials, which include those who have fled war-torn Syria.

Basel Alkhder, Muslim Hands Emergency Lead Programmes, told The Muslim News, “Lebanon and its people are facing great economic challenges and this tragic event will only add to the already difficult situation of inflated food prices and poverty rates. Muslim Hands is on the ground distributing essential items so that vulnerable families have the basic items for survival. We urge our donors to continue to give to the people of Beirut who are in desperate need.”

Manchester-based Human Appeal launched an emergency appeal allocating £50,000 in emergency assistance. Human Appeal is on the ground carrying out a needs assessment and will respond to people’s immediate need for food with ‘instant’ meals that don’t need to be cooked, given that homes have been destroyed.

The charity will also be assessing how they can help with emergency home repairs. Active in Lebanon since the 1990s, Human Appeal has worked there extensively on projects to vaccinate children against diseases and provide sponsorship for orphans.

The charity has also worked extensively with Syrian and Palestinian refugees, as well as local populations, in camps across the country, providing winter emergency packs, food distributions, livelihoods projects, rehabilitation of homes and education projects.

In a statement to The Muslim News Dr Mohamed Ashmawey, Human Appeal CEO, said, “We know through our work in Lebanon just how precarious the situation was before this tragedy, and so we will do absolutely everything we can to help the people of Beirut to recover.”

This article was not published in the hard copy of The Muslim News newspaper.

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