Struggle and survival: life after the Beirut explosion
Children and their families are still recovering from August’s devastating blast
The explosion that devastated the city of Beirut in August happened at an already difficult time for Lebanon.
As well as trying to curb the spread of coronavirus, the country has been dealing with an unprecedented economic crisis which has pushed tens of thousands of people into poverty.
Your response to our Beirut Emergency Appeal enabled us to launch a rapid response in the aftermath of the blast, to reach children and their families in some of the worst affected areas.
With your support, our colleagues and local partners were able to distribute food, hygiene kits and essential supplies – including sanitary pads, nappies, hand sanitiser, soap and face masks – to communities in urgent need:
More than a month on from the disaster, children and their families continue to need urgent support.
Over half a million children in Beirut were at risk of hunger before the explosion and the threat of coronavirus remains. Meanwhile, our teams have been providing psychological support to children who were injured or left homeless by the blast, and helping families as they rebuild their lives.
‘We have literally lost everything’
When the explosion happened, Pascale called her children – Maria, 5 and Elia, 4 – in from the front yard where they were playing.
The family hurried to the safest place in the house: their grandmother’s flat, where they used to hide during Lebanon’s civil war. “We thought a rocket had hit our house,” Pascale explains.
Today, the family is still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. “My children now live with their aunt as we spend the day cleaning and helping each other,” Pascale says.
“We lost our house, cars and work and barely have money left to live. The school needs our help after it got completely destroyed. We are no longer able to think of our children’s future.”
‘I thought we were being attacked’
“The noise was very loud and I thought we were being attacked,” says 10-year-old Lamar of the explosion, which badly damaged the apartment block where she lives with her mum Aicha and the rest of their family.
Since the blast we’ve been able to provide the family with food parcels, hygiene kits and sanitary pads, but Aicha is still in survival mode.
“I am doing what is needed to keep my children alive and fed,” she says. “I don’t think schools will open with the rise of the coronavirus, but if they do open remotely, I don’t know what to do.
“We don’t have the internet. Whenever I want to use the internet we go to my brother’s house, but his house was damaged the most and now he is the one that needs support.”
‘I don’t see any future for my children here’
Before the explosion, Fadia and her husband were already struggling. They had lost their jobs, as a manicurist and taxi driver, because of the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown that followed.
The family’s home was damaged beyond repair in the explosion and their youngest children are receiving psychosocial support. “My youngest are always afraid – whenever they hear any loud noises they come running into the house,” Fadia explains.
With the future so uncertain the family are now considering emigrating. “There are no jobs, no security, we need to live a stable life,” Fadia says. “My teenage daughter wants to go back to school, she needs stability.”
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