Geneva Palais Briefing on children affected by Beirut explosions and UNICEF response

11 August 2020
On 8 August 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon, UNICEF personnel and partners join efforts with local residents to clean up the streets in the areas most devastated by the massive explosion that took place on 4 August.
UNICEF/UNI357472/Gorriz/UN
On 8 August 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon, UNICEF personnel and partners join efforts with local residents to clean up the streets in the areas most devastated by the massive explosion that took place on 4 August.

GENEVA, 11 August  2020 - This is a summary of what was said by Marixie Mercado, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We are a long way from having comprehensive figures on deaths and injuries among children. For now, we know of at least three children killed and 31 children who required hospitalisation. Partners report approximately a thousand children among the injured.

Some injured children were initially separated from their families and have since been reunited. Two are still separated from their parents and are now with extended family and are part of case management services for alternative care.

Preliminary findings from assessments conducted with Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water Establishment teams indicate no major damage so far to the water network.

But many households do not have access to safe water supply because of damage to the connections between water sources and buildings, and within buildings. The WASH cluster coordinated by UNICEF has surveyed 558 buildings out of an estimated 3,000 that were affected. Of the 558 buildings, 337 are accessible, and of them, 135 do not have access to water.

Further assessments on education indicate that 20 public technical and vocational education and training schools that cater around 8,000 adolescents and young persons have also damaged, in addition to the 120 public and private schools we spoke of on Friday.

Some of the immediate response activities underway now:

  • UNICEF is providing precautionary tetanus vaccination shots for the injured. These vaccines arrived in the country on Friday (7 August).
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies en route include 3.5 million surgical masks; 17,370 N95 masks; 2.6m pairs of gloves; 124,810 gowns; along with thousands of face shields, coveralls, boot covers, headcovers and goggles. A first flight is expected Wednesday.
  • UNICEF is delivering water to port workers and first responders, and trucking water to the three Lebanese Red Cross kiosks providing assistance to victims. Our partners have distributed water, hygiene supplies including sanitary pads, infection prevention materials and baby kits to families in temporary shelters. UNICEF is procuring additional chlorine for Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water Establishment, to be delivered in two weeks.
  • A UNICEF tent has been set up in downtown Beirut that is being used by partners to provide psychological first aid to children and caregivers and to refer those who need other services including shelter, water, food, or hygiene items. At least 675 children and caregivers have been reached so far. Three additional tents are being sent up this week.
  • UNICEF mobilized more than 300 young volunteers helping to clean, cook, distribute food and water and do minor repairs on homes and shops. They have reached around 14,000 households.

Damaged health care facilities, schools and water connections will need to be rehabilitated, and emergency cash assistance for the most vulnerable families, including health and logistics workers, is also crucially needed.   

We issued a preliminary funding appeal on Friday 7 August for $8.25 million. We are updating the appeal now and expect the revised appeal to be significantly higher.

Media Contacts

Marixie Mercado
UNICEF Geneva
Tel: +41 79 559 7172
Joe English
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692

Multimedia content

A woman is evacuated from the partially destroyed Beirut neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael on August 5, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. - Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut today after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, killing more than 100 people, wounding thousands and plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis.
A woman is evacuated from the partially destroyed Beirut neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael on August 5, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. - Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut today after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, killing more than 100 people, wounding thousands and plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis.

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