The devastation from two huge explosions in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4 is incomprehensibly massive — and growing.
A smaller blast in the city’s downtown port area triggered a much larger one that ignited from a huge cache of ammonium nitrate, a dangerous compound that was seized years ago from a ship and improperly stored in the city’s port because of a tangled history of financing issues and negligence. The second event sent a shockwave that took down buildings and blew out windows for a hundred miles. Over 130 people have died and over 4,000 were injured; many more are missing. The blast was felt all the way to the island of Cyprus, about 150 miles away. A passenger ship was overturned; the explosion leveled the city’s downtown nightlife and retail center and thousands of homes; it registered as large as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake.
Lebanon, a country that has endured decades of violence, including conflicts with Israel, terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS, and its own civil war, was already struggling to contain multiple crises. Protests flared last year after decades of mismanagement and corruption culminated in a government scheme that triggered the collapse of Lebanese banks. The coronavirus brought the crippled economy to its knees, with hospitals overwhelmed and the country struggling to provide for its citizens as well as the 7 million refugees who live within its borders. The damage to the port area, the center of the country’s maritime import industry but also home to nightlife, retail, and government operations, will cost in the billions. At least 300,000 people have been displaced by the wreckage.
The United States is sinking further into its own state of economic turmoil, but if you are able to contribute, many groups are accepting donations to help Beirutis on the ground. Below is a list of several organizations that need money right now, crowdsourced from news outlets and Lebanese activists (if you find other places, remember to check that an organization or recipient has been vetted by someone you know or a news outlet before you give, if you can).
Local Lebanese funds and organiztions
This Support People in Lebanon list is an efficient collections of links to local organizations. They include the Migrant Community Center, supporting domestic workers; the Al Naqab Center for Youth Activities, located in a refugee camp; and Egna Legna Besidet, a feminist Canadian-based fund for Ethiopian domestic workers.
The Canadian Lebanese artist Lily Hook has created a helpful Solidarity for Lebanon Linktree of on-the-ground orgs, including Atfalouna, a Lebanese food bank; the YallaCare LGBTQ community fund; and Dawrati, organizing for women and children in shelters.
The U.S.-based organization, which has been working on the ground in Lebanon for many years, is helping to shore up emergency supply chains in the wake of the explosions. Donate here.
Lebanese Red Cross
The Lebanese Red Cross is accepting donations for its emergency operations here and also lists volunteer opportunities for anyone currently in Beirut. Donate here.
This nonprofit is trying to raise £5 million to give to NGOs working in the country; the site details the vetting of the organizations that will receive funds. Donate here.
Impact Lebanon is also collaborating with Baytna Baytak, an organization that housed health-care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, to provide housing for displaced Beirutis.