Today marks the first anniversary of a huge explosion in Beirut, a tragedy that killed hundreds of people and caused significant destruction in the city. The government has declared a national day of mourning to commemorate this painful disaster, which is still affecting thousands of families.

Islamic Relief was one of the first organisations that responded to the explosions. Our teams were on the scene immediately after the tragedy, providing aid and support to those affected. We completed several projects in 2020 to help those affected. We distributed food and hygiene kits to the survivors, as well as delivering rehabilitation programmes. We are still providing support in the form of shelter rehabilitation and distributing food parcels.

Tariq Al Bizri, Islamic Relief acting Country Director in Lebanon, says: “The blast was extremely powerful and devastated many parts of the city; the destruction was everywhere. However, the impact and damage were most significant in poor neighbourhoods where people were already living in very dire conditions. Many residents had no choice but to live in what was left of their old houses, which were often seriously damaged by the explosion.

“Thousands of people lost their jobs as prominent businesses and companies were also destroyed in the explosion and never re-opened. Unemployment has increased since then, which has worsened the situation.

“In addition, the economic crisis in Lebanon has intensified in recent months, affecting many sectors.

“We only have electricity for a couple of hours a day, and there is no fuel for generators. The lack of electricity has affected everyone, especially those with health conditions who rely on medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, to survive. With the absence of power supply or fuel for generators, we now live in the dark, significantly impacting the mental health of everyone, especially children.

“It has become common to see people sleeping in the street, especially those who have breathing problems or anyone who wants to avoid the heat. Life in the country is becoming more of a struggle with every passing day.’’