Crisis in Lebanon

On August 4, 2020, more than 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut's port, killing at least 180 people and making 300,000 homeless. The government match for this emergency ended on August 24, but you can still give to our Emergency Response Fund.


The Situation

On Tuesday, August 4, more than 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate held in a warehouse in Beirut’s port exploded, killing more than 200 people and making 300,000 people homeless.

  • More than 7,000 people were injured in the blast.
  • Damage has been extensive to buildings, businesses, four key hospitals, people’s homes and apartments, and to essential public services and food storage facilities.
  • Protests have since broken out in Beirut demanding political reforms, which authorities have responded to with force.
  • Lebanon has been teetering on the edge of financial collapse, with mounting debt in addition to being hard hit by COVID-19.
  • Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world: 1 out of every 4 people.

Oxfam is extremely concerned about the ability of communities in Beirut, and the rest of Lebanon, to recover from the latest crisis. Even before the blast, Lebanon was at breaking point, with people struggling to cope with multiple, complex crises as they near economic collapse and deal with a global pandemic.

The day after the Beirut blast, Lebanon recorded its highest day of COVID-19 infections since February and things are getting worse. Beirut’s hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients and survivors from the blast. Social distancing and lockdown restrictions have crumbled while people have sought to clean up and rebuild their lives in Beirut.

There can be no return to “business as usual” for Lebanon after this tragedy. The government has asked the IMF for a $10 billion bail-out package. The scale and magnitude of the disaster means hundreds of thousands of people needed immediate aid including food, shelter, water, fuel, protection, as well as support to rebuild their lives and livelihoods well into the future.

This is a country facing crisis upon crisis, and the people of Lebanon needed our help to prevent a catastrophic level of suffering.

French firefighters and a rescue dog search in the rubble after the August 4 explosion at the seaport of Beirut, in Lebanon. Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP & Shutterstock.

What Is Oxfam Doing?

As a member of the Humanitarian Coalition, Oxfam was part of a joint fundraising appeal with 11 other trusted Canadian aid agencies. We worked with local partners to assess how to help those who lost their homes in the Beirut explosion.

A disaster of this scale and magnitude meant hundreds of thousands of people needed immediate aid including food, shelter, water, fuel, protection, as well as support to rebuild their lives and livelihoods well into the future.

Oxfam undertook a rapid assessment to understand the extent of needs and how to best support our partners.

Your generous donations to Oxfam helped us to deliver the aid that was so desperately needed. Thanks to our donors, the Humanitarian Coalition and a matching fund from the Government of Canada, together we raised $19 million dollars to support people during the Lebanon crisis.

Through local partners, we provided:

  • Financial assistance
  • Emergency housing
  • Clean water, safe sanitation facilities and essential hygiene items

Oxfam has been working in Lebanon since 1993, providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people affected by conflict, and promoting women's rights, economic development and good governance at a local and national level through work with local partners. Oxfam also works with partners to contribute to the protection and empowerment of marginalized women and men.

In response to the Syria crisis, Oxfam has been providing water and sanitation, and emergency cash assistance for refugees and Lebanese people living in poverty, helping refugees with legal protection issues, and supporting small businesses and private-sector job creation. Oxfam is currently working in North Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, South Lebanon, and in Palestinian camps and gatherings.

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