Caption: The city of Beirut, Lebanon, is shown here in this panoramic view before the explosion Credit: dasMaddin, iStock.
Mennonite Central Committee is responding to the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, that caused extensive damage throughout the capital city on Aug. 4.
The blast is believed to have been caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate, used for fertilizer and explosives, stored unsafely in a warehouse at the city’s port.
“The damage all over Beirut is extensive. It looks like a war zone,” said Garry Mayhew, MCC representative for Iraq, Lebanon and Syria with his wife, Kate Mayhew. The Mayhews are from Minnesota.
The damage all over Beirut is extensive. It looks like a war zone."
- Garry Mayhew, MCC representative living in Beirut
All six of MCC’s international and national staff and the Mayhews’ two children living in Lebanon are safe. Some MCC staff members’ apartments were damaged, one extensively.
MCC is working with its partners that have requested assistance to meet a variety of needs, including clean up and rehabilitation. MCC staff will assess needs over the coming days to determine the details of the response.
MCC’s partners primarily work with Syrian refugees and other vulnerable people in Beirut, providing food vouchers and humanitarian assistance; psychosocial and educational support for girls; primary health care, kindergarten and peacebuilding activities. Recently MCC provided COVID-19 hygiene kits to Syrian refugees living in unofficial refugee camps.
Lebanon was dealing with political conflict and an economic crisis that threaten to destabilize the country before the explosion. The economic crisis was already causing limited food supplies and now that the port is destroyed, food supply is a concern.
In Canada, MCC is appealing in partnership with the Humanitarian Coalition. The Government of Canada will match individual donations made from Aug. 4 until at least Aug. 24 up to a total of $8 million. Individual donations made to MCC in Canada will be matched and allocated through the Humanitarian Coalition. MCC is a member of the Humanitarian Coalition through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.