Beirut Explosion Situation Report #9, February 10, 2021
• International Medical Corps has partnerships with more than 50 primary healthcare centers (PHCCs) throughout Lebanon, supporting primary healthcare services for vulnerable populations including Syrian refugees, Lebanese and migrant workers in Bekaa, Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Akkar and other areas throughout the north and south.
• Since the explosion, our team provided more than 9,000 consultations and more than 2,000 psychological first-aid (PFA) sessions through mobile medical units that were deployed to affected neighborhoods.
• To date, International Medical Corps has distributed more than 3 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE)—including masks, gloves and gowns— and medical supplies to 27 healthcare facilities.
• We have reached a total of more than 145,000 people with health, mental health and protection services
Six months after the Beirut port explosion, Lebanon continues to recover from the massive blast that left at least 220 dead, 6,500 injured and 300,000 displaced from their homes. The explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, registering as a 3.5 magnitude earthquake in Beirut and felt as far away as Cyprus—more than 100 miles away. According to the World Bank, the blast caused between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion in damages. The health sector was amongst the most damaged, with 292 facilities damaged—36% of health facilities in the region. The damage to the health sector significantly reduced access to care, especially among the most vulnerable populations.
Even under normal circumstances, the blast would have been incredibly difficult to recover from, but Lebanon is currently struggling through numerous concurrent crises. First,a protracted economic crisis is causing a rise in poverty, high unemployment and massive inflation—the Lebanese pound has lost more than 80% of its value against the dollar since last year. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major concern, with the highest number of daily new cases yet seen in January—before the blast, Lebanon had some 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with that number rising to more than 328,000 as of February 10. Finally, the country houses the largest concentration of refugees per capita, with considerable unmet needs among Syrian refugees and other vulnerable populations.
The confluence of crises in Lebanon has led to strain on the government, healthcare systems, banks and individuals. There is growing concern about the mental health impacts of the crises on the population. One survivor of the Beirut blast, Joana Dagher, recently said, “I lost my life on August 4. I lost my house, I lost my memory, I lost two friends,” referring to neighbors killed in the explosion. “I lost my mental health, and so I lost everything.”
The road to recovery for Lebanon and for survivors like Dagher will not be a short one. But there is hope that at least one of the crises will soon be brought under control: the country is planning an extensive COVID-19 vaccine campaign—to start this month—that aims to vaccinate 70% of citizens and non-citizens by the end of 2022.