Ibrahim and Mathab dip their bread in their tea to quench their hunger

Ibrahim and Mathab

Their names are Ibrahim and Mathab. They are 6 and 9 years old. They are brothers and sisters and they live in Nabaa, a slum in the north of Beirut. They are originally from Qamoshli in Syria and they have lived for 5 years. Ibrahim and Mathab do not go to school. They don’t have enough to eat. Yesterday, they ate bread soaked in tomato and onion sauce. Today, since their mother has almost nothing left at home, they will soak their bread in sweet tea. Their father, a day laborer, does not work during confinement days and since the beginning of the multiple Lebanese crises, he is almost unemployed.

Today in Lebanon 89% of Syrian refugees live below the poverty line. The multiple Lebanese crisis is exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic and thousands of children find themselves malnourished and in the exact same situation as Ibrahim and Mathab.

Nabaa, Beirut

ابراهيم ومثاب يُغمّسان خبزهما في الشاي ليسدّا جوعهما

إبراهيم ومثاب شقيقان. عمر الصبي ست سنوات والفتاة تسعة أعوام. يعيشان في النبعة، أحد الأحياءالأكثر فقرا شمال بيروت. إنهما في الأصل من القامشلي في سوريا، ويعيشان في لبنان منذ خمس أعوام. إبراهيم ومثاب لا يذهبان إلى المدرسة، وليس لديهما ما يكفي من الطعام ليشبعا، بالأمس أكلا خبزاً منقوعاً بصلصة البندورة والبصل. اليوم بما ان والدتهما لم يبق عندها شيء تقريباً في البيت، فهما سيغمّسان خبزهما في الشاي المحلّى بالسُكّر. والدهما، عامل مياوم، لا يعمل في أيام الإقفال العام، ومنذ بداية الأزمات اللبنانية المتعددة يكاد يكون عاطلاً من العمل

في لبنان اليوم 89 في المئة من اللاجئين السوريين يعيشون تحت خط الفقر، وقد تفاقمت الأزمة اللبنانية المتعددة بسبب جائحة فيروس كورونا ، ووجد آلاف الأطفال أنفسهم يعانون من سوء التغذية وهم في الوضع نفسه الذي يعيشانه إبراهيم ومثاب

Nabaa, Beirut

Ibrahim et Mathab trempent leur pain dans le thé pour caler leur faim

Ils s’appellent Ibrahim et Mathab. Ils sont âgés de 6 et 9 ans. Ils sont frère et sœur et habitent Nabaa,  un bidonville au nord de Beyrouth. Ils sont originaires de Qamoshli et vivent au Liban depuis cinq ans. Ibrahim et Mathab ne vont pas à l’école. Ils ne mangent pas à leur faim. Hier ils ont mangé du pain trempé dans une sauce de tomates et d’oignons. Aujourd’hui comme leur mère n’a presque plus rien à la maison, ils tremperont leur pain dans du thé sucré. Leur père, journalier, ne travaille pas les jours de confinement et depuis la crise multiple au Liban, il est presque au chômage.

Aujourd’hui au Liban 89% des réfugiés syriens vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté. La multiple crise libanaise est exacerbée par la pandémie du Coronavirus et des milliers d’enfants se trouve dans la même situation que Ibrahim et Mathab.

Ritta, Wounded during the August 4 Blast: “I still see the images of the explosion rolling past my eyes at any moment of the day”

“In Lebanon we have the world’s problems! An economic crisis, a political crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic. And as if this were not enough, the Beirut blast has come to put an end to us once and for all!”.

Ritta Hanna was seriously injured on August 4 in the explosion in Beirut. She has a very long way to go before she regains the full use of her arm.

She still bears scars on her face and body. Seriously injured in the explosion of Beirut port on August 4, 2020, Ritta Hanna, who spent ten days in hospital, will have to wait months before she could use her right arm, which, fortunately, has been saved from amputation.

“They took our money from us; they took our work from us and now they have taken our flesh and blood”. This is how Ritta Hanna talks about the economic and humanitarian crisis that has plagued Lebanon for months and about the August 4 explosion.

“In Lebanon we have all the world’s problems: an economic crisis, a political crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic. And as if this were not enough, the explosion of August 4 has come to put an end to us once and for all!” she says.

Ritta Hanna was laid-off from a large company with 60 other employees last March. “For 20 years I have been building a career. Little by little I made progress.  With the economic crisis and the beginning of the Coronavirus confinement I lost my job. This lay-off broke me into two”.

A few months later, while walking along Rue Pasteur, she was seriously injured by the Beirut blast.

“A little over two months later, I still see the images of the explosion rolling past my eyes at any moment of the day. On August 4, I went to visit my mother who lives in the Ras Beirut neighborhood. On the way back, I stopped at Gemmayzeh to have a lemonade in a cafe and then I started to walk. I like to take a walk in Beirut, I often do it before returning home to the suburbs”.

“I was in rue Pasteur when everything shattered, the asphalt, the trees, the windows; it felt as if I were in a slow-motion movie. I turned my head to see what was going on and I saw two stones flying. They hit me and I fell on the ground. And then there was gray dust, everything had turned gray. I thought I was dead. I was shouting but no one could hear me. I saw people walking like automatons all gray and covered in blood”.

“I thought I was dead. I told myself that when you die, there are no more colors, there is no more sun and everything turns gray.”

“Someone heard me, carried me and put me on the hood of a car. I saw injured people like me, some had lost their arms and legs. I could see the bones of my right arm in several places. I was so afraid that my wrist would fall from my arm. I held it the whole time. I was bleeding all over. Men passing by took off their T-shirts so to bandage my wounds.”

“Two men carried me, the first to the local Red Cross center and then to the Orthodox hospital where we discovered that the establishment had been destroyed by the blast; another took me to Saint Joseph Hospital, where I waited for my turn to come on a mattress placed on the floor, surrounded by dead and wounded people. I would like to thank these two persons who saved my life but I do not know them.”

Ritta Hanna has had two surgeries on her right arm torn and fractured in four places and on both feet where her ten toes were broken.

It will take her some time to regain the use of her arm, including long weeks of physiotherapy.

“In the area where I was injured, a very small area, 45 people died. In the cafe where I was having lemonade, two people lost their lives. I was saved miraculously. I think I was very lucky. I have not yet been to the place where it all happened.”

“The first time I went to Beirut just over a week ago I was scared. I panicked and cried. I lived through the war in Lebanon, I grew up under the bombs, but nothing could ever compare to what I saw on August 4th.”

“For what I’ve been through, I feel very peaceful. I spend a lot of time reading and praying. Now, I am relearning to write with my left hand. I’m lucky I am still alive. We have to know how to stand up and move forward!”

CARE Refurbishes a Social Development Center in Bab el-Tabbaneh

The Socio-Development Center (SDC) of Bab el-Tebbaneh was refurbished thanks to a project funded by EU-Madad and implemented by CARE international as part of the protection of women and gender-based violence.

“Now I go to work peacefully, the place is by far safer and more suitable for us and for visitors than last year”,  says enthusiastically Rakia el-Ferri, director of the Socio-Development Center (SDC) of Bab el-Tebbané, in Tripoli, one of the poorest areas of the city.

“This year winter will be different. Previously with every rain, the water would seep from everywhere and we would put buckets to collect it so would not spill out. Often our office stuff was flooded with water. The summer was excessively hot too, “she says, adding that during the past years, the center “was so wet and cold that many people who visited in the winter had joint pain or easily got the flu”.

“CARE International has done a great job rehabilitating the center,” says Rakia, noting that the INGO also restored the building’s slippery and broken stairs making it more user-friendly.

Located in an old building in Bab el-Tebbaneh, the center has long needed a facelift. In treating the waterproofing, the specialists hired by CARE International did not only work on the roof of the building, they have also redone the electricity and repainted the premises. The bathrooms have been refurbished as well.

“It was by working closely with the director of the SDC that priorities were defined. There still remains to be done, such as the purchase of a generator or ensuring accessibility for Persons with specific needs by installing an elevator, but the work was carried out according to the available budget and the priorities defined ”, explains Roy Kobersi, responsible for GBV projects at CARE international in Tripoli. “This center is vital for the region; CARE has an office there and listens to women. Our social worker spends the day in this SDC where we organize many activities notably sexual and reproductive health activities, as well as awareness and life skills sessions”, he says.
Like in Bab el- Tebeneh, CARE international in Lebanon rehabilitated a total of 12 SDCs and established 3 youth spaces in Mount Lebanon, North, and Akkar.

Sylva from Syria lives in Bourj Hammoud since the beginning of the war in her country

“I have always taken my mother’s example. She’s a woman who has worked since we were little, she’s a seamstress. She is generous too. With the little she has, she helps others”.

Sylva Abdo
16 years old
Bourj-Hammoud (Beirut Suburb)

“I was 6 years old when I arrived to Lebanon with my brother, my father and my mother. Dad, who is a technician, worked in an air conditioning company in Lebanon and my mother found a job as a seamstress in a small enterprise. I went to school in Lebanon and then in 2018 we had to go back to Syria because of my father’s official papers. We stayed there for a year. I had to adapt to the school and the society in Syria. In Lebanon, women are more free, people are more permissive. In Syria, for example, everyone was shocked that I came from a mixed school. In Syria, too, you have to dress a little differently. Besides, I can’t speak with the Syrian accent anymore. I also needed to make new friends. In fact, I feel much better in Lebanon than in Syria.

“In the summer of 2018, we returned to Lebanon without my father. We had the chance to rent again the same apartment in Bourj Hammoud. My brother and I returned to the same private school. And then the confinement of the Coronavirus began. I studied online, and since I don’t have a computer or a tablet, I used my mom’s cell phone.

“When I was younger I dreamt of becoming an astronaut but with time I became more realistic and changed my mind. As I love geography, I decided to become an airline pilot.

“My family and I have spent days trying to validate the school year spent in Syria with the relevant Lebanese authorities. In vain. And now I find myself with the best grades in my class without the possibility of being promoted to the next grade because of the official documents that are missing.

 “I don’t know what to do, really. I am hopeful, maybe in the days to come it will be validated and I could move on, otherwise I’ll repeat the class or go back to Syria to study and live with my father. I miss him a lot. I often talk to him on the phone but it’s not the same.

“It’s also difficult in our society to live without an adult male at home. The whole members of the family think that they are entitled to giving you remarks. My maternal uncles for example who live in Lebanon give their opinion on everything we do.

“The Coronavirus lockdown has certainly made me spend much more time at home. But since the double explosion in Beirut two months ago, I have found myself an activity that I love. I joined a small NGO. We helped the inhabitants of the neighborhood whose houses and shops were damaged by the explosion to clean up, we distributed food parcels; we helped restore 12 houses.

“Nothing gives you more happiness than giving. It makes me very happy to help others, to be there for them. When I give, I am even happier than the one who receives.

“On the day of the explosion, I was with my mother at the neighbors’ house. We heard a huge noise, the building rocked, the power was cut and then there were ambulance sirens. I was so scared that I didn’t want to sleep at home anymore. My maternal aunt came to pick us up, everything was broken around us. The next day we went to the Bekaa valley, to my paternal uncles and we returned after a few days to Bourj Hammoud. And from the day I came back to Bourj Hammoud, I started to help. I am from Syria, I was a victim of the war and I don’t want other people to go through the same thing as me.

Tripoli, Illegal Migration

“I would have preferred to perish at sea than to return to Lebanon. If a boat leaves tomorrow, and I have the chance to take it, I will go without hesitation.”

Struck by extreme poverty, more and more Lebanese are trying to flee the economic crisis in their country to find asylum in Europe. Last month, eleven died at sea, including two children, as they illegally left Lebanon for Cyprus.

Last month eleven people including two children under the age of 24 months died at sea while on board a felucca attempting to illegally reach the island of Cyprus from northern Lebanon.

As every year since 2015, when a wave of migrants sweeps over Europe, during the autumn, taking advantage of the calm Mediterranean Sea during this season, many boats secretly leave the Lebanese coast to reach Cyprus, and consequently Europe.

Usually, the boats mainly carry Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in and around Tripoli. It is to be noted that Tripoli, though the second largest city in Lebanon, is the poorest city on the Mediterranean shore.

But this year, the difference is significant, it is the Lebanese who mostly take to the sea trying to flee an unprecedented economic and social crisis.

In the space of a few months, the Lebanese lira has experienced a dizzying drop against the American dollar; today one dollar is equivalent to 8,000 Lebanese lira while a little less than a year ago the dollar rate stood at 1500 pounds.

For the past five years, many boats have been intercepted by the Lebanese Coast Guard and forced to return back; the lucky ones arrive to their destination while the unfortunate, run out of fuel and lose their way. This is what happened to a boat of 49 passengers last month. Eleven died among them two children under 24 months.

In Bab el-Tebbaneh, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city, two families who have lost children live in the same complex of buildings. The buildings with faded facades bear the impact of rockets and bullets; they stand on the old demarcation line that divided the city between Alawites and Sunnis from 2008 to 2015.

Sitting in the living room of his mother’s house, Mohammed 21, tells his story. He left with his wife Obeida, 19, and their son Sofiane, 19 months old.

“We arrived at night on a seashore in Denniyeh, about ten kilometers north of Tripoli, just before the Syrian border. There were much more people than we expected, the smugglers told us to leave all our things on the beach to lighten the boat, reassuring us that a yacht will be waiting for us a few kilometers from the coast. We believed them and we didn’t take anything with us, not even our water bottles,”he says.

Mohammed paid 10 million liras, the equivalent of 1250 dollars to the smugglers, from a coastal village near Tripoli. These smugglers had already driven several boats to Cyprus.

3500 Euros cash

Very quickly the boat lost its way and 24 hours later ran out of fuel in the open sea. “We left on September 7 at dawn, and we were rescued seven days later, on September 14 exactly, by a Turkish navy boat which immediately alerted the Lebanese authorities,”says Mohammed.

“There were a lot more of us than expected. They were mostly Lebanese, we had with us a family of Syrian refugees, a woman among them died on the boat, two Syrian girls who had paid 3500 Euros cash to take the boat, a Yemeni man who was studying in Lebanon and four immigrant workers from India or Bangladesh, one of whom simply perished. We threw his body overboard. When he was tired, he wrote his name on a piece of paper so that those who survive alert his family. I don’t know if this has been done,”he said

Those on board were thirsty and hungry, and seven passengers jumped one after the other into the water hoping to get help. They perished and three bodies were found.

“Sofiane my son was thirsty. He was crying all the time, we didn’t know what to do. I gave him three bottles of seawater which he swallowed very quickly, then he started having diarrhea and vomiting, we gave him antibiotics. He died a few hours later, I was carrying him in my arms. He was getting smaller and smaller. I saw his breathing stop completely. We wanted to keep him on the boat, in fact that was possible for two days, but with the heat it was impossible to continue. My cousin’s son died a day after him. We prayed over the bodies, washed them, wrapped them in shrouds made from our torn clothes, and tied the bodies to the boat so that they could be buried once we reached dry land. I spent the rest of the journey looking at his body in the water under the hull of the boat,” he says.

Mohammed married at the age of 17. He had never worked in his life. He always relied on the alms and help he received from his mother. A few weeks before taking the boat, he had attempted suicide. “For years I’ve been looking for work and I can’t find any,” he explains.

To leave, he sold his furniture. His sister helped him by selling the only two gold bracelets she had.

If he can, Mohammed will go a second time. “My wife is pregnant, I must be able to live decently with her and the child who will be born and this is impossible in Lebanon. In another country, the state helps the citizens! Perhaps I will find work,” he says.

The German dream

His uncle’s house where his cousin Nazir Mohammed, 45, is living now is located one floor lower. Nazir too sold his furniture to pay 15 million liras (the equivalent of 1,875 USD) to the smugglers, so he could leave with his wife and four children, a 20-month-old baby boy, and three girls aged 14, 12 and 9.

Nazir lost his son at sea and since his return he has been living with his family under the roof of his own parents.

His wife, Zeinab, 34, talks about her son Mohammed, who died on board. “I have never been able to buy anything for him, nor for my daughters. When I got him, I couldn’t even afford to buy him a bottle, toys, clothes. Mohammed liked bicycles, he didn’t have one, but he watched in amazement as other children rid their bicycles. I have always been poor and my life has been a series of misfortunes. I would have preferred to perish at sea than to return to Lebanon. If a boat leaves tomorrow, and I had the chance to take it, I would go without hesitation,”she said.

“My son died of thirst. The sun was quite strong, I put seawater compresses on his face and gave him to suck on a fabric soaked in seawater. A little while later, he had diarrhea and he died in front of my eyes,” she says, tears running down her cheeks.

“If I could go once again, I would do so without looking back. Better die at sea than live here. Poverty can also kill. I want to live in Germany, my husband has been there and everyone has treated him well. In Germany everyone leads a decent life and everyone has a future. It’s not like here,” says Zeinab.

Nazir Mohammed says that he already left for Germany with the Syrian emigrants in September 2015. At the time, he had taken a charter plane for Turkey then a boat to arrive to Greece and then trains and buses to cross the Balkans, once in Austria, he headed for Germany.

“I lived like a king. The German state gave me 360 ​​Euros per month. I have never made in my life 360 Euros per month. Here, I sell coffee in the streets, so I barely manage to make 25,000 liras a day (which was 16 US dollars before the devaluation and is equivalent to 3 US dollars today). Now, with the Coronavirus and the devaluation of the Lebanese Lira I am no longer working. In Germany I lived well, the money was enough for me, I was respected as a human being. And I could tour in Europe. I had even visited the Netherlands and Belgium. A year later, my asylum application was refused. I didn’t hire a lawyer, I should have. I returned to Lebanon”.

Nazir will try the impossible to go to Germany, but this time he will not go without his wife and children.

Malak from Tripoli: “For months, we have only eaten twice a day, either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner”

“The Coronavirus lockdown and everything that followed it got the best part of my dreams and my joy”.

Malak Chankich
17 years old
Tripoli (North Lebanon)

“I never understood why there is this difference between girls and boys. We are four kids at home, three girls and a boy. The boy is the youngest. He is 8 years old and we are forbidden to give him remarks. My mom lets him scream at home and do whatever pleases him and she doesn’t say anything to him. She tells us all the time, ‘he’s the only boy, let him do what he wants.’. But I give him remarks even though my mom doesn’t want to. There shouldn’t be a difference between a girl and a boy”.

“Every day I think about how our life has changed with the Coronavirus, the confinement, the fact that it is impossible for us to go to school and the fact that we need more and more money.”

“Before the Coronavirus, my mother, for example, would let me prepare a meal on my own in the evening, something that made me happy. This is no longer the case. For months, we have only eaten twice a day, either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. And often some ingredients are missing from the recipe. With the economic crisis affecting Lebanon, it has become impossible for us to eat properly. Everything has become expensive, rice, lentils, vegetables, meat”.

“I used to enjoy making a sandwich or a good meal at night in front of the TV, which is not the case anymore. Everyone around me is facing the same problems. Everyone has got poorer”.

 “The Coronavirus lockdown and everything that followed it got the best part of my dreams and my joy. I was among the first at school. I was doing very well. Now I don’t even know if I can go to class again. My parents can no longer afford it even though I am in a public school. They are unable to pay the very little fee of any public school. We’ll see, maybe at the end of this month things will change and I would be able to go to school again; I really hope so! My mother insists that we continue our studies. But everything is so difficult for us now.”

Syrians Struggle to Pick up Pieces after Beirut Explosion

Refugees in Lebanon’s capital were already up against it. However, the massive explosion in August has made their tragedy even starker, writes Richard Spencer

It was Lebanon’s worst disaster in a year of disasters. But the port explosion that damaged much of east Beirut in August has turned out to be an especially cruel blow for Syrians in the area, more than 40 of whom were killed, at least 23 of them registered refugees, according to the United Nations.

Among them was Rawan Misto, 20, a Syrian Kurd who was a waitress at a fashionable cocktail bar in the city. There were also port workers and casual labourers such as Abdel Qader Balusso, 43, from Aleppo, and children, like Jude Ahmed Staifi, 13, who died in the Karantina neighbourhood with her mother Khaldiya and sister, Latifa, 24.

Aid agencies fear that the estimated 200,000 Syrians eking out a miserable existence in Beirut will sink still further into poverty and despair as Lebanon grapples with the difficulties in rebuilding the lives even of its own citizens.

Selma Khalifeh

“I can’t see any future for me here,” said Selma Khalifeh, 14, originally from the southern Syrian city of Deraa. She and her family live near what is left of the port, in the district of Bourj Hammoud, and the blast, for them, was the last straw in a year in which the country’s economy collapsed and the coronavirus lockdowns brought life to a virtual standstill. That is true for Lebanese too, but so many more Syrians were already living on the breadline.

Selma, like children the world over, is having to study from home until schools reopen, but unlike most Lebanese families, her family is unable to afford a computer. “Online study” means sharing one cheap smartphone with her brother and sister.

Even when schools do reopen, her father, Assad Khalifeh, said, the children will not be able to attend, as the family can no longer afford the bus fare. He lost his job pouring concrete on building sites, and the family now survive on the money earned by her 16-old-brother at a takeaway snack bar. His wage of 50,000 Lebanese pounds a week used to be worth £25; a paltry sum even before the blast. Today, with the currency collapsing in line with the economy it is worth only about £5.

Selma was physically uninjured by the blast, but it has triggered traumatic memories of the early years of her life, when Deraa was bombed by President Assad’s military. “It was like I was back in Syria, only this was much scarier,” she said. Her weight has dropped by more than two stone, about 14kg, in the two months since, her mother said.

Khalifeh Family

Families like hers are receiving food aid from a local church — Bourj Hammoud is a mixed but largely Christian neighbourhood — and Selma herself receives psychological support and some extra education from Care International, a charity.

Dalal Harb, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut, outlined the scale of the problem. “The proportion of refugees living under the extreme poverty line jumped from 55 per cent to over 75 per cent today,” she said.

Two months on from the explosion, which killed almost 200 people, including in Beirut’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, some parts of the city are slowly rebuilding. A striking number of bars and restaurants in Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael, the most fashionable areas for nightlife, have used online crowdfunding to raise money for new windows and doors, and to keep paying staff salaries. Heritage-related charities are moving in to help to restore some of the area’s fine Ottoman-era architecture, but many other buildings remain in ruins, with the owners of ordinary apartment blocks lacking the hard currency necessary to rebuild in the economic crisis. Many fear that whole streets will be simply abandoned, as some were after the civil war, and left to crumble.

For Syrians, the crisis has profoundly altered their relationship with their new home. Of the estimated 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon, more than 870,000 are registered as refugees. Many others were already working in Lebanon, a much richer country even before the Syrian war, and some refugees initially found good jobs.

Silva Abdo, 16, a Kurd from northern Syria, was educated thanks to a Lebanese government programme offering support for refugee schools, while her mother, Fatima, managed to get a job as a seamstress in a clothes factory, earning the equivalent of £1,200 a month.

Now the situation is reversed. When the crash happened, most employers made Syrians redundant before locals, and Fatima now lives on piecework. Silva, however, began volunteering with a relief project, where she works now in the absence of school. But she is trapped between two worlds: in Lebanon, with her mother, and in Syria, where her father is still stuck, working in a factory in the disputed town of Manbij, which offers even less of a future than Beirut.

The UNHCR says it is having to help Lebanese too, just to ensure they can continue to host a refugee population almost a quarter of the size of their own; the largest percentage of any country in the world. “The most important challenge for refugees at the moment boils down to survival,” Ms Harb said. “They have reached a level of vulnerability they had never reached before.”

Double Beirut Blast

Victims rely on NGOs to be able to return to their homes

“When I saw the house renovated, I was so happy that I went into debt to buy new furniture. I will pay them on credit for the next six years,”says Jeanine Njeim, single and just over 40 years old. She lives with her mother Julie, 61, and her father Jean, 78, on the second floor of a Mar Mikhael building facing the Beirut harbor.

In the neighborhood, there were hundreds of victims between dead and injured. If only we counted the modern building facing her apartment, the Skyline, one of Beirut’s new architectural landmarks, seven people were killed. Today, just like the white silo building, it looks like a wreck facing the port of the Lebanese capital.

Jeanine’s mother and father were injured. And so far they are undergoing the heavy consequences. Jean, who has a hair salon in the neighborhood, would need several months to regain the use of his right hand in which tendons were severed by shards of glass. Julie suffered broken glass on her back and her various wounds required more than 200 stitches.

Jeanine knows that her parents, just like she did, survived the Beirut double explosion by miracle.

“I had just come out of work and walked home. At the time of the first explosion, my mother was on the balcony. I saw her and started screaming to tell her to go in and I started running towards the house. I was on the stairs when the second explosion occurred. I got dust and broken glass in my hair. Upon reaching the floor of my apartment, I saw that our front door was blown away by the blast. There was nothing left of the house. I stepped over the wreckage to help my mother. She was all bleeding in the living room. I don’t know where I got the strength to carry her two floors down the stairs. Once I got to the street, I collapsed,”says Jeanine.

The family lived away from the apartment for more than a month. Jeanine paid her parents a hotel room in the suburbs of Beirut. “As the apartment doors were shattered, there were a lot of looting in the first few days after the explosion. The little furniture we had left was stolen. Immediately, I began searching for associations who could help us rebuild. The NGO Nusaned was the only one to call me back,”she said.

Nusaned is a local NGO, partner of CARE in a project to rehabilitate homes and businesses devastated by the double Beirut blast.

“They are pros. They brought in an excellent contractor straight away; he renovated everything: the glass windows, the door frames, the doors, the painting of the walls, the tiles in the kitchen and the bathroom. Everything! He didn’t miss any detail. In just over a month, we were able to move back into the house and we are the only ones in the building who were able to do so,”she adds.Residents, who do not have access to their bank accounts due to the financial crisis in Lebanon, are still waiting for NGOs to have the restoration work done.

For a year, Lebanon has been facing the worst economic crisis in its modern history. The national currency fell against the US dollar from 1,500 liras to the dollar, in a matter of months, to 8,000.

If they don’t benefit from the support of NGOs, many of the 300 000 displaced will not return to their homes; they sadly cannot afford to rebuild their homes or buy back furniture.

Two months after the explosion, the affected neighborhoods, which were full of people before August 4, 2020, have become ghost zones.

“Even though the neighborhood is still empty and is indeed a disaster area, the most important thing for me is to be back home. It was painful to stay at the hotel. And then when I’m outside Beirut, I’m like a fish out of water. This is where I grew up and this is where I belong,”notes Julie, the mother, who admits that she is still very tired psychologically due to what she went through.

In one of the rooms of the house, plastic bags are piled up. “This is our stuff. Volunteers helped us clean up and they put everything in here. There is still broken glass and dust in them. I hope I will have the courage and the strength to sort them out soon,” she says.

But no matter what she does, the sixty-one-year-old knows her life has turned upside down and that nothing will ever be the same again.

Financial Literacy training | AFDAL II project

سيدات وفتيات يشاركن في دورة تدريبية في منطقة كفرتون – عكار ، حول الثقافة المالية وعمليات التمويل، وذلك ضمن اطار مشروع دعم المزارعين وسبل العيش “أفضل” تنفذه منظمة كير الدولية  في شمال وجنوب لبنان، والممول من الوزراة الألمانية الفدرالية للتعاون الاقتصادي والانماء بدعم من برنامج الأغذية العالمي، وبالشراكة مع جمعية انماء القدرات في الريف و مؤسسة التجارة العادلية في لبنان ومؤسسة رينه معوض وغلافة التجارة والصناعة في طرابلس ولبنان الشمالي. تهدف هذه الدورات التدريبية الى تحسین فرص كسب العیش المستدامة للنساء والشباب 18 سنة وما فوق في المجتمعات اللبنانية شمالا وجنوبا، من خلال تعزیز القدرة التنافسیة والجودة والانتاجیة لسلسلة قیمة المجترات الصغیرة (الماعز والأغنام)، مع تلبیة احتیاجات الاستھلاك الغذائي العاجل للأسر المستھدفة

Women and girls are participating in Financial Literacy training in Kfartoun – Akkar, within Agricultural Farmers Development and Livelihoods Project “AFDAL II”, implemented by CARE International in North and South Lebanon, funded by The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ Germany) , supported by World Food Program (WFP), in partnership with Association for Development and Rural capacities, Fair Trade Lebanon, René Moawad Foundation and Chamber of Commerce Industry Agriculture of Tripoli and North Lebanon.

These training come to improve sustainable livelihood opportunities for Women and youth 18 and over, in North and South Lebanon by strengthening competitiveness, quality and productivity of small ruminants (Goat and Sheep) value chain, while addressing immediate food consumption needs of targeted households.

The Government of Canada matches $8 million in donations to respond to Beirut explosion

The fund will support Canada’s Humanitarian Coalition, bringing together leading humanitarian organizations, among which CARE International

Today in Beirut, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. François-Philippe Champagne, announced that the Government of Canada will match, dollar for dollar, the full $8 million in donations made through the Lebanese Matching Fund as a result of the Canadians’ generosity. These funds will help provide essential food, water, health and other critical humanitarian needs.Canada will transfer the funds to the Humanitarian Coalition, which will in turn allocate the funds among its members based on criteria such as their capacity and presence on the ground.

This announcement was made on a field visit, during which Mr. Champagne met in one of the heavily destroyed areas of Beirut, with member organizations of Humanitarian Coalition, namely CARE International, Islamic Relief and World Vision.

During an unprepared press conference, with the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, CARE Lebanon Country Director, Bujar Hoxha spoke on behalf of the Humanitarian Coalition.

He said, “I would like to thank Mr. Champagne for the support and the generosity that the government of Canada has shown to Lebanon and Beirut during this crisis. The Canadian has shown quite a lot of compassion and generosity towards the Lebanese people and towards the Beirut society.”

“As Humanitarian Coalition, we were there as of the very first hours with the local society initiative and we were impressed with the youth, the girls, the women who have taken volunteer actions to clean the city and to provide life-saving assistance,” he added.

“We were building our response with the local civil society organizations; most probably the recovery will require us to look beyond the Beirut blast because this country is facing multiple crises so it is great to have allies like the government of Canada. Because we have to address the socio-economic crisis, we have to continue to support the refugees which are 20 per cent of the population in Lebanon and we still have to fight the COVID-19 pandemic with a lot of hospital support,” he said.

Mr. Champagne continued, “Canada, through Lebanon Matching Fund launched on August 8th, supports Humanitarian Coalition activities. The member organizations’ fast and efficient response as per international standards, along with the Canadians’ support, is ongoing to reach all the people affected by the Beirut blast.”

“Through the Lebanon Matching Fund, Canada is making a meaningful contribution to the humanitarian effort on the ground in Beirut, which will help ensure critical aid goes to those who need it most. I commend the individual Canadians who donated so generously to support the Lebanese people in a time of great crisis,” he added.

On August 8, 2020, the Government of Canada launched the Lebanon Matching Fund, announcing that it would match up to $2 million in donations. This amount was quickly multiplied, and a new matching amount of $8 million was established.

Canada’s Humanitarian Coalition brings together leading humanitarian organizations to provide Canadians with a simple and effective way to help during international humanitarian disasters.

The Humanitarian Coalition members are Action Against Hunger, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CARE Canada, Doctors of the World, Humanity & Inclusion, Islamic Relief Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Québec, Plan International Canada, Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada. All are recognized and trusted international partners.Members of the Humanitarian Coalition actively participate in established UN-led humanitarian coordination processes to ensure that aid is disbursed effectively.

Below is the Facebook link to the press conference