Disaster response Lebanon

Beirut port explosions

2020 - Ongoing
Published on Aug 07, 2020 09:54 AM  -  Updated on Oct 19, 2020 07:42 AM
TSF deployed a team to Beirut in collaboration with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to provide reliable communications in the area of the disaster.

Context: Explosion
Start date: 07/08/2020
End date: ongoing
Area of intervention: Beirut
Activity:

  • Support to humanitarian coordination
  • Emergency call center

+ 1,200 people assisted
+ 1,100 requests being treated 
75% of beneficiaries declare having received psychological support
4,080 calls
203 hours of communication
58 humanitarian workers connected to the system 

Context

On Tuesday 4th of August, two massive explosions took place at the port of Beirut, in Lebanon. The accident caused at least 180 deaths, and over 6,500 casualties, forcing another 300,000 people out of their homes. The number of sudden casualties requiring urgent assistance has overwhelmed the national healthcare system, which was already struggling to treat COVID-19 patients. In addition, the country is plunged since several months in a deep economic crisis, in which Lebanese people as well as around 1 million refugees hosted in the country have to deal with poverty, daily power cuts, and limited public healthcare.

Deployment

On 7 August, TSF deployed a team to Beirut in collaboration with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to provide reliable communications in the area of the disaster. At the moment, the local network remains unreliable, and electricity is provided almost only through generators.

TSF connections will facilitate the coordination of UNDAC’s search and rescue teams and assessment operations, aimed to assist the affected population. The assessments include not only an evaluation of the damages caused by the explosion, but also the environmental consequences and risks linked to the chemicals released during the accident, which are threatening the health of Beirut’s inhabitants. In addition, since the Beirut port is only partially operational, there may be a significant impact on the delivery of humanitarian aid to support the over 300,000 homeless people. Finally, TSF should also provide connectivity to the UNOCHA Regional Office, which is situated in the area of the explosion and has been significantly damaged.

Several humanitarian organizations and governments are sending teams on the ground to support all the relief operations. To be effective and quick, all these require strong coordination, which can be ensured only through reliable telecommunications. In a situation still unclear, TSF support will be essential to ensure humanitarian support can be provided as fast as possible.

Beirut Map

Call center for the disaster victims

The impact of the disaster has been considerable on the distribution of humanitarian aid to the 300,000 people living in shelter. Since August 14, parallel to its work with UNDAC, TSF is actively working with the local actors from the NGO Live Lebanon and the consortium of NGOs Beirut Relief Coalition (22 NGOs and 2,500 volunteers) to support concrete and immediate actions providing emergency aid to affected populations. TSF has set up a call center to allow disaster victims to report their needs regardless of the field: medical, psychological distress, financial aid, etc.

Each request for assistance is handled by a team in charge of answering or returning the calls to beneficiaries, and another team, a support unit composed of specialized personnel, who is responsible for analyzing the applications and distribute them to partner NGOs according to their specialties, capacities and area of ​​intervention.

TSF is testing other innovative solutions to allow the coalition to reach as many people in great difficulty as possible. The objective thus sought is to diversify the communication channels thanks, on the one hand, to an automated system for collecting needs via an Instant Messaging app, and possibly to a free phone number allowing to join a team of volunteers who will receive requests for assistance and mobilize NGO partners. 

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