On August 4, 2020, a warehouse containing large quantities of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon. After an initial explosion, a subsequent blast leveled buildings near the port and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the capital, which is home to two million people. The explosions and ensuing fires reportedly released toxic materials in the environment. There are over 200 dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 people forced from their home. Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed.
The wide-scale destruction comes in the midst of ongoing instability in Lebanon since economic and political protest began October 2019. On August 10, 2020, Lebanon’s government resigned following protests. Additionally, Lebanon recently returned to lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases. The Ministry of Health continues to report increasing COVID19 transmission rates, and there is fear that the explosion with inhibit COVID-19 prevention efforts due to the lack of ability to socially distance and lack of personal protective equipment.
On September 8, 2020, working in partnership with Airlink, HHI shipped 16 pallets (7,576 lbs.) of supplies to ANERA, a humanitarian organization based in Lebanon. The shipment includes critically needed medicines, medical supplies, blankets and personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.
In addition to this most recent shipment, HHI had a container of relief supplies in the port when the explosion occurred in August. Preliminary reports indicate that the shipment was “un-damaged” during the explosion. ANERA is working on retrieving this shipment.
HHI is also arranging a shipment of supplies to support the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS) in Lebanon. These supplies will go to support various local hospitals in Beirut. Shipping details are currently being finalized.