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We can help the UN aid Lebanon's recovery
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 08 - 2020

After a devastating blast ripped through Beirut Port in Lebanon on Tuesday, wounding thousands and rendering hundreds of thousands homeless, the UN moved rapidly to step up its relief effort.
The comprehensive network of specialist UN agencies are working together to help the people of the Lebanese capital get back on their feet, but if you are wondering what you can do to help, the UN has put together this list of what they are doing, and where you can donate, to ensure that any aid you can give, reaches the people most in need.
This Friday and into the weekend, the UN continues to mobilize emergency assistance, including relief items such as temporary shelters, for approximately 300,000 displaced people.
The horrific blast has brought into sharp focus the need for the international community to step up and help Lebanon and its people at their time of greatest crisis, suffering the impact of economic collapse, political turmoil and uncertainty, rising infection rates from COVID-19, and the terrible destruction wrought by Tuesday's explosion.
UN Humanitarian Affairs office, OCHA
The blast ripped through "a country already facing civil unrest, economic hardship, the coronavirus outbreak, and a heavy burden from the Syrian refugee crisis", the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock pointed out on Friday.
As more supplies are arriving each day to support operations, OCHA has released $6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fund trauma care, support to hospitals, repair damaged homes and provide logistical support.
Meanwhile, within 36 hours of the blast, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Najat Rochdi, had released $9 million from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund to address primary health needs and provide food assistance to the most vulnerable.
Funds given to UN and partners ‘will go directly to the people'
In a specially recorded audio message for UN News, Rochdi gave an assurance that all funds that members of the public around the world feel moved to donate to the UN, and its NGO partners, "will go directly to the people who suffered from this horrendous blast'.
Any donation that can be provided "will help alleviate the immediate suffering and support the Lebanese people as they start the process of rebuilding," said Lowcock.
WFP: Feeding people
Amid concerns that the explosion will worsen an already grim food security situation that has coincided with a profound financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Program (WFP) said it is in "close" discussions with Lebanese authorities to coordinate its emergency food response.
As the country works to rebuild Beirut Port, WFP announced on Friday that it would help boost food security across the country by importing wheat, flour and grain as huge cereal silos were destroyed in the epicenter of the blast.
Already providing cash and food programs in Lebanon, WFP will also help with logistical and supply chain expertise and any donation you can spare would be greatly appreciated.
WHO: Working with health partners
The day after the massive blast, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent 20 tons of health supplies to cover 1,000 trauma and 1,000 surgical interventions for those injured in the explosion.
"We are working closely with national health authorities, health partners and hospitals treating the wounded, to identify additional needs and ensure immediate support," said WHO Representative in Lebanon, Dr. Iman Shankiti.
And on Friday afternoon WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus released $2.2 million from the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) to support the immediate response while ensuring the continuity of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNHCR: Needing shelter
As they rush to support the government-led response, "shelter, health and protection" are the top priorities for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), spokesperson Charlie Yaxley told reporters on Friday.
"The need for shelter is massive", he said, adding that the explosion may have also impacted refugees living in Beirut.
As UNHCR continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, it is also working to decrease the pressure on overwhelmed hospitals and allow more patients to be treated promptly. Any contribution you can make will be used to help achieve this.
IOM: Missing refugees
While the impacts of the explosion on Lebanon's estimated 400,000 labor migrants and approximately 1.5 million refugees are yet to be seen, those already living in precarious situations will certainly be at greater risk, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The UN migration agency is working alongside UN partners to conduct a rapid assessment to further understand the magnitude of the damage and the specific needs of the most vulnerable people — including Lebanese citizens, migrants and refugees.
"Now more than ever we must guarantee the health, safety and security of Lebanon's most vulnerable people", said IOM Director General António Vitorino, stressing the need to incorporate the needs of migrants and refugees in broader emergency response plans.
UNICEF: No water, COVID surges
Against the backdrop of massive damage to homes, and COVID-19 cases spiking to a record 255 infections registered on Thursday, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) cited latest available figures on Friday estimating that up to 100,000 children might be homeless, or living without water or electricity.
"The needs are immediate, and they are huge," UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told journalist in Geneva on Friday, appealing for an initial $8.25 million for the emergency response.
Among other things, UNICEF is working to replace PPE and other medical products lost in the blast while procuring critical health supplies; distribute water; reunite children separated from their families, and provide them with psychosocial support.
Emergency cash assistance is needed and damaged health care facilities and schools require rehabilitation.
UN human rights office highlights ‘calls for accountability'
With large swaths of the city unfit to live in, the country's principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knees, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) called the situation "dire".
"Victims' calls for accountability must be heard, including through undertaking an impartial, independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion", OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville said, calling for "a swift international response and sustained engagement", to prevent many more lives from being lost.
UN staff: A family matter
UN staff across the world have also stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with their Lebanese colleagues.
The UN Staff Unions in New York, Nairobi and Vienna, as well as the Staff Associations of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), have raised $32,000 in funds so far from workers, to support the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon), both headquartered in Beirut. — UN News


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