For over a year now, Lebanon has catapulted from one crisis to another. Food prices have been on the rise, people struggle to provide for their families, they worry about shortages in gas and medication, and a global pandemic that has weakened the health system and widened the gap in the economy. And then to make it all worse - the massive blast that occurred on August 4 2020 - devastating the port of Beirut and causing extensive suffering and tremendous damage to the city and its people.
As an emergency intervention, UNICEF, working in partnership with World Vision and other NGOs, provided emergency cash assistance as immediate support to vulnerable individuals in the most vulnerable and affected areas. The aim was to reach 80,000 vulnerable children and individuals affected by the Beirut Port explosions, and provide eligible households with a one-off emergency grant of 120 USD per eligible member to allow families to address the immediate needs of their children. The programme covered the mostly affected areas with pre-existing vulnerabilities such as Karantina, Borj Hamoud, Karm El-Zeitoun, Qobayat, Bachoura, Basta El Tahta and Khandak. It covered families with children under 18, pregnant women, people with disability, elderly above 70 years old and women headed-households.
Living in Karantina, one of Beirut’s most vulnerable areas located right next to the port, Hassan, 48, his wife and five children still cannot believe what happened that day. What started as an ordinary sunny summer day, ended up being the worst day in Lebanon's history.
There is nothing ordinary about this year.
Hassan was watching television with his family when suddenly they heard a massive explosion. "We could not understand what was happening, the glass came from everywhere," he says. The blast severely destroyed their home. Glass cut through the walls and damaged every piece of furniture and appliance.
Thanks to the community and volunteers who joined forces and started cleaning and helping in every possible way, Hassan was able to stay home.
But a repaired home would not solve all his problems.
Six years ago, Hassan lost his job as a butcher after the Karantina Butchery closed. It was the only profession he knew. “I worked as a porterage for a while, but due to some health problems I was not able to proceed for long, so now I am spending all my life savings,” he says. Recently, he sold his car in order to keep providing for his family. He is unemployed and unable to provide his kids with decent meals, let alone their basic needs.
After the explosion, Hassan received food assistance from several NGOs. As for the 120 USD he received from the Emergency Cash Transfer assistance, he plans on spending it on his children. "I was neglecting all their needs and desires, and this assistance is the perfect way to get them what they have been asking me for years," Hassan says. “My kids cannot remember the last time they wore new clothes and shoes. My eldest is always feeling ashamed and inferior to her classmates because of her old wardrobe.
But now I will be able to buy her new items and restore her self esteem”.
UNICEF offered two options for households who wish to benefit from the assistance to apply through, self-online registration and on-site registration. l
Living in an area right next to the explosion zone was not an easy experience. Having to see the damage that occurred and face the debris and the memories it brings, will always bring bad memories. Assistance and support similar to the Emergency Cash Transfer is helping the most vulnerable families affected by the Beirut explosion overcome these hard times and focus on being present for their loved ones to recover from the horrific experience they all went through.