Bonn/Beirut Following the explosion in the port of Beirut, the organisation Help is setting up an emergency aid program for those affected. It has 500,000 Euro at its disposal. The head of operations, Kayu Orellana from Bonn, speaks of his experiences of the situation on site.
Following the explosion in the port of Beirut, the organisation Help is setting up an emergency aid program for those affected. It has 500,000 Euro at its disposal. The head of operations, Kayu Orellana from Bonn, speaks of his experiences the situation on site.
Last Tuesday a heavy explosion in Beirut killed and injured people, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. One day later, a team led by Bonn's Kayu Orellana travelled from Frankfurt airport to Lebanon.
The program coordinator for the Middle East and head of operations on site for the aid organisation Help reported by telephone on Monday that everything was now in place to support the people according to the motto "help for self-help". There was plenty to do: "The explosion destroyed houses and furniture even kilometres away from the port," Orellana said. Windows broke as well as doors.
So far the summer temperatures have kept the situation bearable, even though the hospitals are completely overcrowded. Heavy rain has recently begun. "We want to support those affected so that they can rebuild the heart of their lives as quickly as possible," explained the development aid worker.
According to the current situation, about 500,000 Euro are available, and federal funding could follow. Help is dependent on donations. Material for the repairs is not easy to obtain, but the organisation has possibilities, also because it has fresh money in hard currency. Lebanon is in a severe economic and financial crisis. The country's own currency is not accepted by many companies because it can lose value at any time.
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Help's approach is to provide immediate aid to the Beirut people, either for materials or for handicraft services by companies in their own country. Ten Help staff members take care of coordination, paperwork and approval of applications. According to Orellana, the plan is to stay on site for another two weeks.
By then a local management team will be in place to provide further assistance. However, the entry ban associated with the coronavirus could delay this approach: some future emergency forces are to be pulled together from surrounding Middle Eastern countries.
The development aid worker describes the political mood as "extremely tense". The explosion, possibly igniting a large amount of stored ammonium nitrate, has "led to an explosion of the mood". The Beirut people demonstrated in the streets against the government. The violence has not yet taken over, but the Middle East expert believes that a worsening of the political situation is quite possible.
Farid Saad is very concerned about his family. His mother and four siblings live near the port. Like Orellana, Saad tells of permanent power cuts. Fresh water supplies are hardly available. The garbage has not been picked up in the quarter where his relatives live since the explosion. "My mother doesn't hear anything after the bang, my brother got hurt by glass splinters," Saad says.
Help is dependent on donations for emergency aid. Information can be found on the website www.help-ev.de.
Original text: Philipp Königs
Translation: Mareike Graepel