By Tony Akleh
Beirut healthcare facilities, schools severely affected by blast damage
The Port of Beirut is expected to be out of use for at least one month, pending repairs, debris removal and safety clearances, a UN report has revealed.
In addition, three hospitals and 12 healthcare centres remain severely damaged following the massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday last that killed more than 150 people and wounded at least 6,000.
The report said 120 schools used by 55,000 children have also been damaged, while grain supply in Lebanon – handled by Beirut port – is currently sufficient for 4-6 weeks, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Humanitarian partners are conducting further damage assessments, in close coordination with relevant government authorities, the report added.
The OCHA issued its second situation report about Beirut Port explosions late last week, in collaboration with humanitarian partners, covering the period from 5 to 7 August 2020.
All imports and exports have been redirected to Tripoli port, which is about 85 kilometres north of Beirut.
Some of the most affected neighbourhoods include Ashrafiyeh, Central district, Gemmayzeh, Marfa and Mar Mikhail.
The emergency in Beirut has caused many Covid-19 precautionary measures to be relaxed, raising the prospects of even higher transmission rates and a large caseload in the coming weeks, the report said.
The blasts destroyed an estimated 120,000 metric tons of food stocks, including wheat, soy and other staples. Grain silos at the port were also heavily damaged in the explosions.
Approximately 85 percent of the cereals in Lebanon were previously stored at the port. Current estimates suggest that, at regular consumption rates, the remaining grain supply in the country is sufficient for 4-6 weeks.
The United Nations and its partners are looking to adjust logistic networks to ensure sustained operations.
The UN has released $15 million to support emergency response operations. Donors have also provided numerous financial and in-kind donations.
Emergency shelter assessments are ongoing, and assessment of food supply status and market functionality/accessibility is planned.
A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been deployed to support response operations, and emergency medical teams have been deployed to Beirut to support the ongoing medical response.