The people of Beirut urgently need our support. The devastating explosion occurred at the worst possible time, just when Lebanon is dealing with an unprecedented economic crisis as well as Covid-19. Food prices have skyrocketed, and services including hospitals are dramatically overstretched. The explosion made over 300,000 people homeless in an instant.
Here, three Beirut residents tell us how the explosion shook their lives.
Displaced in our own country – Fadia
Fadia Zaarour, 57, was at home with seven members of her family when the explosion happened.
“I can't describe the sound that we heard, I tremble every time I remember the horrific experience. It was so scary, we were thrown around the room and the smoke covered everything,” recalls Fadia. “My daughter, who is 20 years old, tried to cover her grandmother with her body and this caused her back to become severely injured.”
There has been a heart-warming show of support amongst the people of Beirut. "The next day we came back to the house and with the help of the volunteers we were able to clear much of the damage and clean the house.”
Fadia's daughters were affected psychologically by this explosion. They spend the nights following the explosion crying.
“I can't see any future in this country. I never wished for my daughters to travel, but now I'm encouraging them to leave the country and seek a better life. We became displaced in our own country,” says Fadia.
Everything destroyed, I didn’t know where to start – Toni
Toni Maalouf, 58, lives in the Karantina area of Beirut. It is only a short distance from the port where the explosion occurred. Thankfully, he wasn't home when it happened.
“I expected to see damage when I got home, but I didn't expect to see the fridge thrown onto the washing machine. Everything in the house was destroyed and I didn't know where to start; I was so tired,” says Toni.
Toni received a call on the fourth day after the explosion from a group of 30 volunteers outside his house. They were ready to help him clean up the rubble.
"We will never lose hope, we will never give up and we will always resist,” Toni concludes.
It was like an atomic bomb - Movses
Movses, 62, was in his home when the explosion happened. He ran to the balcony immediately when he heard the sound and the blast threw him, his wife and his 20-year-old daughter inwards. "When we regained consciousness, I couldn't believe my eyes. Everything was destroyed, it was like an atomic bomb,” Movses explains.
"I couldn't find a place to stay with my family, so we are sleeping in our damaged house,” he said. Volunteers helped Movses clean his apartment and assess the damage, but Movses feels the help is unfortunately not enough.
"Many people came and promised us help, but honestly, I don't see a point in that. This is hopeless. I want to leave this country, there's no hope for us to stay anymore.”
Movses has injuries to his head and all over his body. "My injuries weren't as painful as seeing my daughter covered in blood. I wasn't able to protect my own child," he concludes.
The Norwegian Refugee Council is on the ground in Beirut assessing the damage, providing emergency accommodation, and giving the people of Beirut the tools they need to begin rebuilding their homes.