Editor's note: This is an evolving story. Please see our updated news release here. Below is the original story published shortly after the blast.
Thousands of the quilts and kits Lutheran World Relief supporters created in love for neighbors in need in Lebanon sit among the twisted metal and rubble in Beirut’s nearly-destroyed port.
"It's an unprecedented situation," Anera in-kind program coordinator Lina Atat said while waiting at a security checkpoint to enter the port. "Getting supplies is challenging, and many of these are life-saving."
Anera was to take receipt of seven containers from the port. Three contained LWR goods, and the rest were donated pharmaceuticals. All were bound to support Anera’s effort to help Palestinian and Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.
Yet the Aug. 4 explosion changed things for Anera, and for hundreds of thousands of Beirutis who lost loved ones and homes. Atat, a pharmacist, explained Anera’s connections to the U.S. State Department and helped to ensure an emergency airlift of medicines is planned.
The Port of Beirut is closed for shipping following the ammonium nitrate blast that killed more than 150 and forced 300,000 from their homes. Staff from Lutheran World Relief and Anera have not been successful at gaining access to the port, which is heavily protected by the military, in order to confirm the condition of the resources meant to help.
"But Lutheran World Relief was the first to offer to replace what was lost," Atat said.
Lutheran World Relief humanitarian assistance staff are working to replace the lost quilts with stores from a Dubai warehouse managed by the United Nations. Traveling over land, the quilts will join Anera’s programs in Lebanon, where 1 in every 4 people is a refugee.
The total value of the lost LWR shipments was approximately $624,000 and included 22,000 quilts, sewn by individuals and members of Lutheran congregations across the U.S. The loss could mean a bitter winter for thousands of refugees and other vulnerable groups Anera serves.