Australia is supporting the people of Lebanon as they respond to the devastating impact of the major explosions that occurred at Beirut Port on 4 August 2020 (local time).
Official statements report the tragic loss of at least 190 lives, and injuries to more than 6,000 people, with many more still missing. The death toll is expected to rise as emergency workers continue their efforts to rescue people from the rubble.
The explosion destroyed the port, and the force of the shockwaves resulted in the near total destruction of downtown Beirut within at least a 5km radius. The damage to infrastructure includes offices, residential premises and businesses.
Reports indicate that 300,000 people in Beirut have been left homeless.
On top of the immediate harm of the blast, the destruction of much of Lebanon’s principal port carries humanitarian implications for a country already facing an economic and food security crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. More than 80% of the grains that feed the country pass through Beirut port. The explosion destroyed the main grain terminal along with the silos that hold the national reserve stockpile. The port was also an important thoroughfare for humanitarian assistance into neighbouring Syria. Australia’s funding to the World Food Programme is supporting the delivery of food supplies, including a shipment of 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour to increase food security in Lebanon.
Australia’s humanitarian assistance
The global community has responded quickly to offer assistance to Lebanon, including through search and rescue support, medical supplies and equipment, mobile field hospitals and cash donations to support responders on the ground.
Australia has committed $5 million in immediate humanitarian assistance and provided humanitarian relief supplies to Lebanon to help with the recovery efforts, as Prime Minister Morrison highlighted during the International Conference on Assistance and Support to Beirut and the Lebanese People on 9 August. The funding includes $2 million each to trusted humanitarian partners, the World Food Programme and the Red Cross Movement, and $1 million to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to help to ensure food, medical care and essential items are provided to those affected by this tragedy.
On 14 August, an Australian Defence Force C-130J Hercules aircraft delivered urgently needed humanitarian supplies to Beirut, including mobile warehouses to help replace storage facilities destroyed in the blast, and shelter kits and tools to help address urgent needs for the 300,000 people left homeless. A further two flights on 21 and 31 August delivered additional shelter materials and blankets for those affected.
Australia has partnered with LebRelief, Caritas, World Vision and Oxfam to distribute these essential supplies to people affected by the explosion. Australia has also been working with these organisations and others to support vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19, in addition to Lebanon’s existing economic uncertainties.
How can you help?
For those wishing to make a personal contribution to the response efforts, a summary of Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) members with fundraising appeals is listed on the ACFID website.
Alternatively, visit the Australian Red Cross website for advice on how to contribute to the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises that cash donations are faster and more effective way to help the provision of goods in humanitarian emergencies. Cash donations allow responders on the ground to allocate resources based on needs, saves costs associated with transporting items that may go to waste, and ensures cultural sensitivities are considered in the response.
Travel advice and consular assistance
Australians in Lebanon should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor smartraveller.gov.au. We also recommend you message family and friends in Australia so they know you are safe. Australians in need of consular assistance should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on +61 2 6261 3305.
If you are concerned for the welfare of family or friends in Lebanon, who are Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents, you should first attempt to contact them directly. If you have not been able to establish contact or remain concerned for their welfare, you should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1300 555 135.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs: Statement on Beirut, 5 August 2020
- Joint Statement — Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Minister for Women, Minister for Defence: Australia delivers humanitarian supplies to Beirut, 15 August 2020),