USA :International aid arrives in Lebanon after devastating explosion in Beirut

Beirut, Aug 15 . .- Eleven days after the explosion that on August 4 devastated the port of Beirut, leaving at least 178 dead, thousands of injured and almost 300,000 homeless, Lebanon is facing a humanitarian crisis , but local and international organizations and initiatives have come to the rescue, such as the one led by the Spanish José Andrés.

On Saturday, the chef prepared 300 dishes for the Saint George Hospital employees, who continue to repair the damage caused by the explosion, which devastated several neighborhoods in the Lebanese capital, where he has set up ten tents to offer food to the victims.

Outside the hospital, which has been destroyed and for the first time in its history it does not accept patients, the car arrives with food from one of José Andrés’ “kitchens”, who expressed concern about the situation in Lebanon.

“Between the economic crisis, the lack of wheat reserves, we could have, if the international community does not do something about it, a humanitarian problem,” the chef, whose NGO World Central Kitchen has fed millions of people, told EFE today. people affected by disasters.

José Andrés affirmed that the crisis is not due only to the explosion of the port, “but it is much greater” because other factors are added, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, “that complicate everything exponentially.”

THE TIME TO HELP

The UN has also requested help, especially in the long term, to prevent the humanitarian situation in the country of cedars from worsening.

“International support has been very generous but the immediate needs – food, health, shelter and education – remain enormous, as do the longer-term needs for rehabilitation and recovery. This is the time to help the Lebanese people.” Jan Kubis, the UN coordinator in Lebanon, said in a tweet this Saturday.

The United Nations and its partners yesterday requested 565 million dollars to help Lebanon, a figure that would cover the most urgent needs for humanitarian aid, in the first phase of the response to this emergency.

That amount would also include the costs of the second phase, which involves the reconstruction and restoration of infrastructure, public services and housing, according to the UN.

A MULTIPLE CRISIS

Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war (1975-1990) and the local currency, the Lebanese pound, has lost more than 80% of its value on the black market since the beginning of the year, while the rate of The official exchange rate is still set at 1,507.5 pounds to one dollar.

The World Bank (WB) warned before the explosion that half of the Lebanese population is below the poverty line.

After the disaster, the food supply has been affected as 85% of the products reached the Mediterranean country through the port, which is gradually returning to operation after the devastation.

In addition, the country’s wheat reserves practically disappeared in the deflagration that destroyed the silos where the cereal was stored, although the international community has sent flour and grain, and promised donations to cover the needs of the population in the following months.

A source from the Ministry of Economy assured Efe that Lebanon needs 35,000 tons of wheat every month. Between now and August 20, the World Food Program (WFP) will deliver 17,500 tons of wheat to the country, according to the UN agency.

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CITIZEN INITIATIVES

For his part, Jose Andrés praised the “speed” with which Lebanese and residents have mobilized to help those affected by the explosion, which left more than 6,000 injured.

He stressed that there are restaurants in the city that are working and feeding the most needy, as well as the tents of the NGOs scattered around the city.

One of the volunteers participating in the “Kelna Aayle” initiative (we are all one family), Tracy Chartouni, told Efe that they are trying to help the residents of the neighborhoods most affected by the deflagration, those of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhail.

“There is no one from the Government working here, it is the people who help, clean (the rubble) and give food,” he said.

Isaac J. Martin

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