On 4 August a large explosion occurred in the port of Beirut, killing at least
191 people and injuring over 6,500. Around 40,000 buildings were damaged,
up to 300,000 people may have lost their homes, and at least 70,000 their
job (OCHA 25/08/2020, UNDP in OCHA 17/08/2020, BBC News 15/09/2020, Al Jazeera 24/08/2020). The cause of the blast is pending investigation but has been
attributed to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate which was inadequately
stored in port warehouses (The Guardian 05/08/2020).
A number of cadastres of Greater Beirut are affected, some of which are
home to vulnerable or poor Lebanese, migrant workers or refugee
communities. The explosion occurred while Lebanon faces a deep
economic and political crisis, and rising COVID-19 cases. Protests based on
mistrust of the Lebanese government and overall administration have been
taking place for months in Beirut prompting the Government to step down
on 10 August 2020. Poverty has risen in recent months; 2.7 million residents
are now poor and 1.1. million are extremely poor (ESCWA 19/08/2020).
Poverty, unaffordable housing, and barriers to accessing healthcare were
pre-existing issues for vulnerable host, migrant, and refugee communities.
Inequalities in accessing services and opportunities based on gender, age,
sexual orientation, and a minority background were also highlighted.
Photo: Farid Assaf