BEIRUT – Digging through the piles of rubble in the city’s destroyed port, local staff have been able to locate and extract the remains of a shipment of humanitarian supplies meant to help refugees and other vulnerable communities in Lebanon.
“We’re still learning all we can, and it’s like piecing together a complex puzzle,” said Carrie Taneyhill, Lutheran World Relief’s director of humanitarian response.
Taneyhill said staff from local partner, Anera have been able to reach the scene of three damaged shipping containers holding more than $600,000 of humanitarian supplies, including kits assembled to promote personal hygiene and bales of hand-sewn quilts from churches.
The goods had been reported as destroyed by the Aug. 4 ammonium nitrate blast that killed more than 180 people. The devastation forced more than 300,000 people from their homes. Destruction was so severe that the area around the port, where the shipping containers had been housed, has just now been able to be reached.
Lutheran World Relief staff have worked for weeks with Anera staff to gain access to the port to verify the damage. It appeared at first glance that the three containers were behind a building, a spot which may have afforded the containers some small amount of protection from the blast. The containers were damaged – but not completely destroyed, as initially believed.
“Our local partner, Anera is still sorting through the damaged goods to see if anything can be salvaged,” said Melanie Gibbons, Lutheran World Relief’s outreach and engagement team leader. “Our goal is to help the people of Lebanon and to keep those making that help possible – our supporters – fully informed as things unfold.”
Distributing humanitarian supplies is only one component of the Lutheran World Relief response. The agency is also working to address immense shelter needs, helping poorer families to repair and return to their homes.