The humanitarian response to the explosions at the Port of Beirut: Flash Appeal Lebanon 2020 – Final report (April 30, 2021) – Lebanon
The explosions in the port of Beirut occurred in the early evening of August 4, 2020 when Lebanon was already grappling with the impact of a serious socio-economic and health crisis. Following the explosions, and as the Lebanese themselves, through individuals and civil society in Lebanon and via the diaspora, launched a massive campaign of support, international humanitarian aid was immediately offered. In less than 24 hours, experts from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), as well as a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC), disaster management experts and other emergency teams were deployed to support urban search and rescue (USAR) and the initial humanitarian response. In addition, the United Nations immediately released $ 14.1 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund (LHF) to support emergency operations.
In order to facilitate an effective and efficient coordinated United Nations international response, an emergency humanitarian coordination structure has been established under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator (CH). It aimed to facilitate joint needs assessments and collective response strategies to enable the delivery of emergency assistance to affected people in principle, building on the pre-existing capacities and resources of UN agencies and NGO already implementing humanitarian activities in Lebanon.
The UN-coordinated Flash Appeal for Lebanon 2020, in the amount of $ 354.9 million, was launched on August 14 and articulated a collective response to cover the main needs of 300,000 people in the areas sectors of protection, education, food security, health, shelter, WASH and logistics. . Given the major response efforts implemented through bilateral support to the Lebanese government, as well as through Lebanese civil society, the appeal was revised downward to $ 196.6 million in November 2020.
During the first weeks, medical and surgical supplies, as well as medication, were provided to hospitals and health care centers for the treatment of injuries; damage to homes and health facilities was assessed; emergency shelter kits were distributed to ensure safety and protection; plumbing repairs have been undertaken; hygiene and childcare kits, as well as in-kind food packages and hot meals, were distributed; 12,500 tonnes of wheat flour were distributed to the millers; 12 mobile storage units have been installed at the port to temporarily increase the storage capacity of goods and humanitarian goods; protective, psychosocial and mental health support services were provided; and resources have been allocated to debris clearance efforts.
Over the following months, the response continuously adapted according to the more precisely assessed needs of the affected population, gradually progressing towards the provision of cash assistance to increase the purchasing power of households to cover their food needs. and others, and medium-term interventions intended to pave the way for longer-term recovery and reconstruction. Some early recovery activities, including cash-for-work, support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and rehabilitation and reconstruction work, have also been carried out. These activities were then integrated into the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction (3RF) Framework, developed by the World Bank Group, the United Nations and the European Union and officially launched in December 2020 following the second Paris conference on aid co-organized by France and the United Nations.
Immediately after the blasts, the United Nations partnered with the Lebanese Red Cross, drawing on its strong capacity and network of volunteers, to undertake the initial needs assessment. The EOC Assessment and Analysis Unit subsequently brought together partners to agree on a common strategy to provide timely analysis to support decision makers during the first phase of the response. ’emergency.
Throughout the response, the attention of humanitarian actors was maintained on gender equality. This was possible through the integration of gender expertise from the early stages of the response into key coordination forums, the preparation of the gender analysis and the use of data disaggregated by sex and by gender. age (SADD) in needs assessments, monitoring exercises, as well as in referral mechanisms.
While the participation of myriads of different actors, including individuals, businesses and charities, sometimes responding in unstructured ways, has proven difficult for traditional humanitarian actors as well as for the overall coordination effort led. by the government, the work of these first responders has undoubtedly been invaluable and has greatly contributed to the speed of the response. The humanitarian sectors and the Emergency Operations Unit (EOC) established at the start of the response played a critical role in supporting more effective and efficient coordination of overall efforts. Systematic engagement with local and less traditional actors, including through other coordination mechanisms that had emerged organically at the neighborhood level, remained complex despite the important coordinating role played by the LHDF local NGO forum.
As the Lebanese Armed Forces were given the primary responsibility for operational coordination by the Lebanese government, the civil-military coordination efforts (CMCoord), launched early in the intervention, were crucial in establishing a relationship working with the Beirut Advanced Emergency Room (FER) based on humanitarian principles and guidance from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on Civil-Military Relations.
The progress of all Call Flash projects was tracked through sector-specific indicators in a dedicated reporting and monitoring platform, allowing for the regular publication of reports and situation analyzes. This complemented the funding tracking, both inside and outside the Flash Appeal, in the Funding Tracking Services (FTS) managed by OCHA. While the reporting of reprogrammed funds from pre-blast operational plans, as well as the systematic reporting by donors of their contributions could have been improved to maximize the comprehensiveness of the FTS platform, especially for activities outside of the FTS platform. Flash Appeal, the overall funding at the end of April is $ 314 million, of which $ 165 million was funded under the Flash Appeal and $ 149 million was reportedly received outside the coordinated plan.
The flash appeal from Lebanon officially ended on December 31, 2020, but the implementation of some activities continues in 2021. The vulnerable population affected by the explosions in the Port of Beirut continue to require assistance in 2021 because they do not was unable to fully recover from the impact of the explosions in the broader context of the current political and socio-economic crisis in the country, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward, as the UN and its partners aim to focus their efforts on longer-term interventions, it is expected that tailor-made humanitarian interventions will continue to be needed for extremely vulnerable and marginalized groups.