100 days on from Beirut explosions, children and families affected remain

Woman in UNICEF-branded black t-shirt sits with a girl, both wearing face masks
A girl, wearing a mask for protection from COVID-19, participates in psycho-social activities at the UNICEF’s children friendly space (CFS) at the Karantina public garden in Beirut, Lebanon.

BEIRUT, 11 November 2020 – Children and families affected by the explosions that tore through Beirut 100 days ago remain in need of crucial support as they rebuild their lives, UNICEF warned today as part of the report “Rising from Destruction. 100 days of UNICEF’s response to the Beirut explosions and the road ahead for children and families.”

Key to that support is providing children and families affected with psychosocial support to allow them to process trauma experienced during and after the explosions. UNICEF has reached more than 33,000 people through a range of interventions, including 7,200 children, parents and primary caregivers through child-friendly spaces in affected areas and peer-to-peer sessions.

“Providing children and parents with psycho-social support is a vital step in helping people rebuild their shattered lives,” said UNICEF Lebanon Representative Yukie Mokuo. “While the immediate scars are starting to heal, thanks to extraordinary efforts on the ground, the deep wounds – both visible and invisible– of children and families in a country experiencing multiple emergencies will require sustained solidarity, commitment and support.”

The sheer number of children, parents, and caregivers who remain in need of support, however, means that increased funding for key programmes, including child protection, is urgently required.

12-year old Hussein* is one child who has received this kind of support. “I stopped using colour on my drawings that show my life because everything changed on that day. After the explosion, my world has no colour. The explosion made all the colours in my life disappear. Everything changed,” said Hussein, who lives in the Karantina neighbourhood, one of the worst affected. Ten weeks on, and after sustained support, the life of Hussein and children like him is slowly returning to a semblance of normality. “The colour is back in my life again,” he says.

In the past 100 days, UNICEF and partners have:

  • Provided more than 7,200 children, parents and primary caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support services through child-friendly spaces established in affected areas and peer to peer sessions;
  • Established an emergency cash transfer programme that will support up to 80,000 vulnerable children and individuals over the coming month.
  • Provided over 22,000 children under 5 with essential nutrition supplements including Vitamin A, high energy biscuits and emergency food rations;
  • Re-established water supply connection in 1,060 buildings, reaching 20,765 people in 4,080 households;
  • Installed 4,882 water tanks, including 111 in three heavily affected hospitals in Karantina, Wardiya and Geitaoui;
  • Distributed critical humanitarian supplies and COVID-19 protection and hygiene items worth US$3.7 million to partners, with around 80 per cent of the supplies procured locally, supporting the Lebanese economy.
  • Committed with partners to support the rehabilitation of 7 schools and provision of furniture and equipment for nearly 90 schools.
  • Engaged more than 1,800 young people in a community-based response focusing on cleaning, minor rehabilitation of households, and preparation and distribution of meals for vulnerable families.
  • Provided 7,500 girls and women sanitary pads or mini hygiene kits, including COVID-19 prevention items and information on sexual and gender-based violence referral pathway.

“UNICEF’s response over the past 100 days has been lifesaving, swift and essential,” said Mokuo. “Yet we cannot rest, and our work continues. Rebuilding Beirut and lifting the spirit of the people of Lebanon is a long-term commitment. UNICEF and partners have supported thousands of children and families affected by the blast, but the needs remain acute We thank our donors – individuals, governments, businesses – from the bottom of our hearts. Their efforts and commitment help us stand with Lebanon’s children, youths and families.”

UNICEF has received 33 per cent of the US$50 million required in responding to the needs of children and families. Reaching more children, young people and families will require sustained support. An increase in funding would allow UNICEF to become even more effective in addressing some of the escalating child protection challenges across the country, including supporting more families who cannot afford the cost of essential services, contributing towards the rebuilding of more schools, improve household water systems in affected areas, and provide training and employment opportunities to more youths working in the reconstruction of their city.

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