Update: MAP’s emergency response to the Beirut explosion

The permanent team of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in Lebanon has been responding with local partners to the massive explosion on 4 August which devastated much of Beirut. More than 220 people are known to have died and 7,000 have been injured.

One of our local partners, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), sent its ambulances and volunteers to support rescue efforts and treated dozens of wounded Palestinians, Syrian and Lebanese people at Haifa Hospital in Beirut’s Burj el Barajneh refugee camp.

PRCS ambulance driver Ajmal told MAP: “It was difficult driving, with rubble on the streets blocking our way. The destruction and number of injuries was unbelievable.”

Many Burj el Barajneh residents came forward to donate blood.

Ibrahim, a PRCS pharmacist, was inside Haifa Hospital: “I was called to the hospital as the emergency room stock was running out and they needed supplies from our reserves. Some of the wounds were simple but others were complicated, such as one which needed five different threads to suture. Thanks to all who have helped us secure medicines and medical supplies.” ​

In the days following the explosion, Palestinian and Lebanese volunteers have worked hand in hand to clear streets and homes of debris.

MAP’s partner Naba’a has provided food parcels to affected families. An estimated 300,000 people, including 80,000 children, have been made homeless, with damage estimated at $15 billion. Injuries and damaged homes are likely to take a long time to rehabilitate, and will require both local and international action.

How MAP is responding

MAP has been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters to our Beirut emergency appeal, enabling us to respond swiftly to healthcare needs. Already, MAP is procuring $50,000 of essential medical supplies for PRCS hospitals, including surgical, anaesthetic and X-ray supplies, lifesaving fluids and antibiotics, flamazine (for burns) and antiseptics/disinfectants. This support comes on top of the $100,000 of personal protective equipment and other infection control supplies we have already provided to PRCS hospitals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These hospitals are chronically under-resourced and were already struggling as a result of the economic crisis in Lebanon. 

Though the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut were spared the worst of the physical damage, residents – in particular children – have nevertheless been seriously affected by this terrifying event and its stressful aftermath. Through our partnership with UNICEF, MAP continues to support local organisations to provide mental health and psychosocial services to children, women and families.

Coming as it does on top of multiple crises - including COVID-19 and the country's economic collapse - MAP knows that the impact of this latest catastrophe will be wide-ranging and long-term. It will affect Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese residents of the city alike. We are discussing with our local partners what additional support MAP can provide, with a likely focus on preserving and building trauma/emergency surgical capacity within the PRCS hospitals.

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