On August 4, 2020, as people went about their business in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, they were unaware that a massive bomb was about to go off. It wasn’t a ticking bomb or one that had been constructed to inflict damage, it was organic, and a fire that broke out at Beirut’s port lit the deadly fuse. About 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in the form of fertiliser had been unsafely stored at Beirut’s port for more than six years. That fateful day, Beirut was rocked by an explosion with a force equivalent to 1.1 kilotons of TNT. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded.

More than 200 people were killed and 6,000 people injured by the blast that could be felt as far away as Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of Europe. It was even heard in Cyprus, more than 240 km away. The blast blew apart buildings and overturned cars leaving thousands homeless. Houses 10kms away were damaged in the blast and hospitals were damaged.

Kiwis responded when Tearfund launched an appeal and Tearfund’s partner, MERATH, was already helping in what resembled a war zone, even though many of the workers had not escaped some of the effects of the blast themselves.

Donations from Tearfund and from around the world helped MERATH to bring comfort and support to many by:
  • Distributing 3,000 vouchers to blast affected households so they could buy critical items from local stores.
  • Distributing 7,800 meals to affected families.
  • Distributing hygiene kits to 6,200 households.
  • Training first aid and crisis management teams to offer care and counselling services for those traumatised by the explosion.
  • Supporting the clean-up and repair of homes and businesses.

body1-beruit-explosion-clean-up-workers-(1).jpgWorkers involved with the clean-up.

body2-beirut-explosion-food-workers-(1).jpgWorkers preping hot food to give out to vulnerable individuals and families.


CEO of Tearfund's partner MERATH Nabil Costa says, “We are incredibly thankful to Tearfund for having been a light to us and for helping us, in turn, to be a light to our broken city."

He says it's been a year since the explosion, but the wounds are slow to heal.


“I have often wondered, when will we see the light to this unending tunnel of bad news.This year has taught me that we should not wait to see light at the end of the tunnel but that we need to look to the light of Christ and be the light to those around us,"says Nabil.

Unfortunately, a year on, Lebanon is still in a state of chaos, teetering on the edge of collapse. Before the blast, Lebanon was in deep economic free-fall.  All this was acerbated by the ongoing burden of hosting more than 1.5 million registered refugees and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly one-fourth of the people living in Lebanon are refugees.

Daily life in Lebanon for citizens, migrants and refugees is becoming more unbearable. Over half of the 6.8 million people living in Lebanon now live below the country’s poverty line, surviving on less than NZD 5.50 a day. Despite the work being done by NGOs and the international community, thousands of people remain homeless. While damaged hospitals are being repaired, the global pandemic is overwhelming the health system and the economic crisis and damage to buildings are making it hard for families to find accommodation and work. Although Beirut is still recovering from the shocking impact of the explosion, MERATH continues to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Thank you for your love, support, prayers, and donations towards this work. While there is still so much to do, your ongoing support continues to help the people of Beirut and ignite a sense of hopefulness across the nation.

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