In a single moment, the force of the Beirut explosions lay waste to homes, offices and livelihoods. Almost 200 people were killed, thousands injured, and an estimated 100,000 children are now without homes.
In time and with sufficient funding, what can be rebuilt will be rebuilt. We must ensure children and their families are supported to recover from the psychological effects of this catastrophe.
Ten-year-old Mira was at home when the Beirut port blast hit her house.
“I was showering at the time and, when the impact hit, the first aid box exploded on my head. Then the door blew off its hinges. I remember that I just started screaming. My mother ran to me, pressed hard on my wound and gave me a drink of water so I wouldn’t faint.”
Calling an ambulance was out of the question – even if they could have got a line, the emergency services were overwhelmed, and every serviceable vehicle was already deployed.
Her father took her and others to a nearby hospital in his van – some died of their injuries on the way.
"People in the truck were screaming for help, and it was very upsetting to see some die before even being treated."
“There were whole families with me where mother, father, and children were all bleeding on the floor of the van,” says Mira, 10.
“My father was hurt too. I hope he recovers enough to be able to work, and then I can go back to school – I want the opportunity to study hard enough to become a doctor one day.”
UNICEF is working with local partners to provide psychosocial support for children like Mira, helping them cope with bereavement and the trauma of the events they witnessed.
Mother Faten will never forget the moment the explosions ripped through the city of Beirut at 6.07pm on August 4.
"I was away from home, away from my children. My first and only thought was that my children must have been killed"
A single mother with three young children between the ages of four and 11, she works several cleaning jobs in order to earn money to provide for her family.
“I ran home as fast as I could. I felt my feet moving, but it was as if I was going nowhere.”
“When I finally got home and saw my children were unhurt, I couldn’t take my eyes off them.”
“My eldest daughter was pale and silent, my son wept, and my youngest daughter clung to me for the next three hours.”
A child of Lebanon’s civil war period herself, Faten feels the events of last week will be more difficult to manage than those of the war. “This is a far greater challenge… back then I had no children, no responsibility. With children, you feel everything differently and see the world through their eyes.”
For Faten and her three children, the trauma of August 4 will take some time to heal.
So far, our teams have reached over 750 children with psychosocial first aid, through face-to-face sessions, phone calls and door-to-door visits, and supported around 600 caregivers, like Faten, with counseling.
Faten already feels cause to thank UNICEF and our implementing partner Himaya: “They were the first people to call us after the blast. The only people to call and check on my children and to ask if we needed any assistance. Since that day, they have been here for us, making my hope for a return to normal life a little more achievable.”
Three crises at once
The devastating explosions in Beirut add to an already terrible crisis for the people of Lebanon.
Since October 2019, Lebanon has faced dramatic and deteriorating economic and socio-political challenges, amidst the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, and against the economic impact of the longstanding Syrian conflict.
Even before the impact of COVID-19, families were struggling in the face of devaluing currency, job losses and rapid inflation, together with daily power cuts, a lack of safe drinking water and limited public healthcare. Many families are already reducing their food intake as a result of rising poverty.
Now, the Beirut explosions threaten to worsen this food insecurity, driving families to the brink: Lebanon imports around 80 per cent of its food, and the blast has destroyed not only the country’s main shipping port, but also its main grain silo.
Following the blasts, UNICEF immediately mobilised teams, providing water to frontline responders, supporting reunification efforts for separated children and families, and rapidly removing vital vaccines from a damaged warehouse at the port.
Since then, our teams have been working closely with local civil society organisations to deliver ongoing support to children and families affected by the crisis. No UNICEF funding is going to any government ministry, however an activity partnership previously arranged with the Ministry of Education is being re-evaluated in light of the disaster in Beirut.
Now, UNICEF’s immediate priorities are to replace damaged and destroyed personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, distribute water and hygiene materials, help affected children cope with bereavement and the trauma of the events they witnessed by providing psychosocial support services, and mobilise and support youth in the rebuilding efforts.
The needs in Lebanon are immense. If you can please consider supporting children affected by this tragedy.DONATE NOW
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
20 Sept 2023
This is what climate change looks like around the world
Over one billion children around the world are at extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. That is nearly half of the world's children. And it is happening today.
27 Aug 2023
Meet Tony, a dad from Vanuatu who did all he could when his newborn twins were in crisis.
14 Aug 2023
Three innovative ways UNICEF is taking climate action
Three innovative ways you are ensuring children inherit a greener planet where they can reach their full potential
6 Aug 2023
Burundi: the country where young people are leading climate action
From rocket stoves to sustainable agriculture, young people are shaping futures for the next generation
4 Aug 2023
In photos: six months of rebuilding lives in Türkiye and Syria
It has been six months since the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria devastated children and families. See their journey from heartbreak to hope thanks to the ongoing support of people like you.
4 Aug 2023
Aussie artist Ken Done has spent the past 35 years as a UNICEF Ambassador
Ken Done is the kind of guy that can put a smile on anyone’s face. He’s warm, funny and a world-renowned artist, hailing from Sydney’s North Shore.
1 Aug 2023
Why breastfeeding mums deserve our support
Breastfeeding is free, it doesn’t discriminate, it’s safe, it’s supported and backed by a global legal framework. Here’s why women should be supported to breastfeed, and how UNICEF is rising to the global challenge of helping women combine work and child-rearing.
27 July 2023
Meet three Team UNICEF City2Surf superstars
Our supporters are lacing their sneakers and hitting the ground running for City2Surf in support of children worldwide.
23 July 2023
How birth certificates can unlock education for Aussie kids
Registering a birth is more important than ever.
23 July 2023
100 days of healing for the children of Sudan
As the conflict in Sudan con, UNICEF is working tirelesslessly to protect the children caught in the middle of the devastating crisis.
13 June 2023
One doctor's mission to make twice the impact
UNICEF supporter Doctor Rob Baume is calling on other doctors to join him to support children well beyond their clinics.