Our team was last on the road in Karantina. This is one of the poorest districts of Beirut. Here, the damage caused by the explosion is not as spectacular as on the chic buildings near the port, but the need for help is all the greater. Because people live here who cannot cope with the crisis on their own.
Many of the buildings inside were damaged in the explosion, especially windows, doors and furniture were broken. The clean-up and construction work is taking up a lot of people's time. At the same time there is high unemployment, not least because of Covid-19. The family coffers are empty.
Our relief supplies benefit particularly needy people. We worked together with the Lebanese organization DPNA, which has been providing emergency aid since the disaster in Beirut and has identified women in particular need for distribution. They come from Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Our joint distribution has now gone to them.
Gallery: Hygiene articles for women in Beirut
A total of 1.000 parcels with hygiene articles were distributed. These are so-called "dignity kits", which take into account the special needs of women. From our many years of work in Lebanon we know that women often have to step back in crisis situations. Their need for menstrual hygiene plays a subordinate role in families. But we want the women and girls to be well supplied with hygiene products, especially now that their own bathroom may look like a construction site and everything is already complicated anyway.
The packages contain sanitary towels, disinfectant, soap, two small towels, moist towels and shampoo, sufficient for about two months. We were able to finance the distribution thanks to the donations already received for our emergency aid in Lebanon.
Among the other relief efforts that our team has already begun are ten mobile toilets and ten shower stalls that will be set up in emergency shelters for homeless people in Beirut.
Huge need for help throughout the country
The explosion catastrophe in Beirut a month ago hit a country that had already had to deal with numerous crises and challenges before. Starting with a disastrous economic situation and a government crisis, through a lack of infrastructure, to rising corona infection rates and the accommodation of around 1.5 million refugees.
It is hardly possible to explain all the difficulties and challenges that the people of Lebanon are currently facing. Everyone is affected, everyone has needs. Even those who once had a lot of money in their bank accounts no longer have access to it. The whole country needs support and change.
The living conditions for the many refugees in the country are particularly difficult. This applies both to Palestinians, most of whom have lived here for decades, and to families from Syria. They fled the war to the neighboring country. Despite the very hard and difficult conditions under which they have to live in Lebanon, the vast majority of them cannot and do not want to go back (yet), even though in some regions of Syria there is no more fighting. In talks with our team, they say in a trivialized manner that they "prefer to stay away from the Syrian government".
De facto, the supply situation of the refugees in Lebanon is dramatic. Income opportunities are extremely limited, the shelters are provisional, and a large number of children have no access to education. Many families live in informal camps. Our local team has been working there more intensively in recent weeks.
Corona prevention in emergency shelters
In the coming weeks again 6.000 sanitation and disinfection packages will be distributed to people living in tents and temporary shelters. This is the third action of this kind in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross. "We have improved the contents of these kits. In addition to the standard products for families, we have also added sanitary towels for women," explains our employee Muriel Schockenhoff. There are two types of aid kits: The first is for general hygiene and health care and the second is specifically for families already affected by Covid-19. They include protective gloves and clinical thermometers, among other things.
In addition, arche noVa will carry out repairs to the water and sanitation systems in the informal camps in the coming weeks.
arche noVa country program more important than ever
arche noVa still runs two long-term projects in Lebanon. Our WASH project is about the expansion of water and sanitation services for communities and schools in the districts of Akkar and Northern Lebanon. In our school project about 900 Syrian children receive regular schooling at their refuges in the Bekaa plain, east of Beirut. Both projects make a significant contribution to easing the crisis situation at their places of work.
For our activities in Lebanon we are still urgently dependent on donations.