Lebanon/MENA: Port of Beirut Explosion, Operation Update (August 2020 – July 2021), Call Number: MDRLB009 – Lebanon


Humanitarian conditions The humanitarian impact of the August 2020 explosion at the port of Beirut was immense, and the broader context of the complex crisis in which it unfolded made the path to recovery and resilience difficult.

The double explosion, caused by the detonation of hundreds of tons of highly explosive fertilizer stored at the port, killed more than 200 people, injured more than 6,000 people and psychologically injured an unidentified number of others, and displaced more than 300 000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed. According to the World Bank, the explosion caused between 3.8 and 4.6 billion dollars in property damage. Half of the capital’s health centers remained inoperative. Nearly 56% of private businesses have also been affected.2 This has a direct impact on the livelihoods of those employed by affected businesses in Beirut, a group that includes many people residing outside Beirut and commuting to work as well as those who live and work in Beirut. the capital. People living in low-income and underserved neighborhoods in Beirut are among the most vulnerable as they may have lost both their homes and their source of income.
The consequences of this disaster took place in the conditions of aggravated crisis that Lebanon experienced, before and after the explosion. These include an unprecedented economic crisis, civil unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the long-term implications of hosting one of the largest refugee populations per capita in the world.

Lebanon’s economic crisis, which began in October 2019, now ranks among the world’s three worst crises since the 1850s, according to the World Bank. 3In 2021, more than 80% of Lebanese live in multidimensional poverty, which reflects deprivation in areas such as health care, electricity, water, sanitation, transport, connectivity and means of income. This represents a doubling of the multidimensional poverty rate, which was 42% in 2019.4 These conditions have also led to a crisis in the quality and accessibility of health care. Previously subsidized drugs are no longer available and services have become less available as hospitals and health centers have had to reduce operating hours or operational capacity due to reduced fuel and supplies. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimated in September that 40% of doctors and 15-17% of nurses had left the country.5 COVID-19 continued to affect health and economic recovery, the countries that experienced a surge of cases in late 2020 and early 2021. Vaccine rollout began in February 2021, but with less than one in five vaccinated by the end of the reporting period, Lebanon remains vulnerable to continued transmission, including variants.

Lebanon has also been affected by civil unrest and uncertainty in the governance environment. Following the resignation of the government in August 2020, the government served in an interim role throughout the reference period, then formed a new government in September 2021.

Current conditions pose risks to already vulnerable people, including migrant and refugee populations, who make up a quarter of Lebanon’s population. Most Syrian and Palestinian refugees lived in poverty before 2019 and experienced increasingly difficult situations.

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