80,000 children displaced following Beirut explosions, as UNICEF Australia launches Lebanon Emergency Appeal

Some 80,000 children have been displaced by the Beirut explosions, according to UNICEF estimates, with families affected in desperate need of support.

The explosions on Tuesday evening left 140 people dead, 5,000 injured and hundreds missing. The situation for children is critical. Many are separated from their families, suffering extreme shock and trauma and struggling to access healthcare facilities which have been damaged by the explosion.

“Over the past 24 hours, UNICEF continued to coordinate closely with authorities and partners on the ground to respond to the urgent needs of families affected, focusing on health, water and the wellbeing of children,” said Violet Speek-Warnery, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Lebanon.

The port of Beirut – where the explosion took place – is the main lifeline of the country. It is now totally destroyed.

UNICEF Australia has launched a Lebanon Emergency Appeal to respond to the urgent and life-threatening needs of children and communities in Beirut. 

UNICEF Australia Ambassador, former Wallabies coach and proud Lebanese-Australian Michael Cheika has voiced his support for the appeal, “Too many lives lost, thousands injured and 80,000 children who have been displaced  demonstrates why - as generous Australians and the global Lebanese community - we must pull together and put our arms around the children of Lebanon in their time of need. 

“This tragedy has occurred with the country already on its knees in economic crisis, making our support even more valuable than ever before.”

According to the latest information:
 
  • A children’s hospital in the Karantina area, which had a specialized unit treating critical newborns, was destroyed. One newborn died;
  • Five out of seven UNICEF-supported vaccine cold rooms were destroyed in the blast, affecting critical vaccination programmes;
  • At least 12 primary healthcare facilities, maternal, immunization and newborn centres in Beirut have been damaged, impacting services for nearly 120,000 people;
  • There are numerous reports of children who have been separated from family members, some of whom are still missing;
  • The remaining operational hospitals are over-stretched and have been depleted of critical medical supplies;
  • 10 containers stocked by the Ministry of Public Health with personal protective equipment were destroyed;
  • Many schools have reported damage in Beirut and the surrounding area, with assessments ongoing into the level of damage;
  • In the past 48 hours, 464 new cases of COVID-19 were registered.
“UNICEF is supporting the local authorities and partners. Our teams have been working around the clock to provide people affected with much needed assistance,” said Speek-Warnery.

UNICEF in Lebanon is working with counterparts and partners to scale up support to affected children and their families in order to respond to the immediate and medium-term needs, including:
 
  • Drinking water was distributed to frontline responders and those living in the directly affected location around the Beirut port;
  • Conducting preliminary assessments on warehouses, schools, cold rooms, water infrastructure and health facilities including hospitals and specialize intensive care unit for newborns;
  • An estimated 90 per cent of stored vaccines supplies were rescued from the damaged warehouse in the port;
  • Providing psychosocial support to help children cope with bereavement and trauma.
  • Supporting the reunification of children who have been separated from their family and the setting up of a hotline;
  • Working with youth volunteers helping with the clean-up in different areas;
  • Establishing a cash transfer programme for temporary housing assistance for families displaced by the loss of their houses.
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For more information and comment from the ground, UNICEF Australia or Michael Cheika please contact:

Gemma Hill, UNICEF Australia, ghill@unicef.org.au, +61 432 233 675

About UNICEF Australia:

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Australia, the wider region and around the world visit www.unicef.org.au

In response to the Beirut explosions, UNICEF Australia has launched a Lebanon Emergency Appeal to support the urgent needs of children and communities affected.