Refugee Livelihoods Special Initiatives & Emergency Response

How our partners are responding in Beirut

A medical worker talks to a man holding a child
Photo: Mohamad Cheblak/MSF

Our partners Médecins San Frontières (MSF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children and the Red Cross are among the organisations responding to last week’s explosion in Beirut.

The massive blast on 4 August caused devastation in Lebanon’s capital. At least 160 people have died, thousands have been injured and 300,000 people made homeless.

The disaster comes at a time when the country is struggling to cope with an economic crisis and a rise in COVID-19 cases. Lebanon also hosts an estimated 1.5 million refugees, most of whom are from Syria.

MSF medical support

MSF teams are assessing the needs of hospitals and emergencies services in Beirut, looking to provide support to the health system in Lebanon.

“Some of our colleagues went spontaneously to health facilities to see how they could lend a hand to the medics dealing with the emergency,” says Jonathan Whittall, Coordinator of MSF’s Emergency Response in Beirut. “We also donated first aid kits to the Civil Defence in the immediate aftermath.”

Since then, MSF teams have set up a medical point in Mar Mikhael, one of the most affected neighbourhoods in Beirut, to provide consultations for patients suffering from chronic diseases and ensure continuity in their treatment. They have provided wound care for people who needed it and installed four water tanks to help cover the need for water and hygiene. They are also providing hygiene kits and psychological first aid.

The IKEA Foundation provides unrestricted funding to MSF to enable it to respond immediately to disasters like the explosion in Beirut. This means it has the funds available when and where they are most needed – including in situations that receive little media attention.

Urgent need for shelter

With so many people having had their homes damaged or destroyed in the explosion, the need for shelter is massive. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is on the ground supporting those in need, urgently assessing shelter requirements, assisting with repair and rehabilitation efforts and providing shelter kits, plastic sheets and other relief items.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this explosion,” says Astrid Van Genderen Stort, Head of Marketing and Emergencies at UNHCR. “UNHCR continues to call on the international community to stand by Lebanon, show solidarity and provide meaningful support to this generous country that has hosted so many refugees, even during periods of hardship and crisis.”

Many of our other partners are also responding to the crisis, including IRC, Save the Children and the Red Cross. IRC is providing immediate cash and economic assistance to help families who have been displaced by the tragedy.

Save the Children have operated in the country for a long time to help vulnerable families, and are now stepping up their efforts in Beirut. Their highest priorities are to find and protect unaccompanied children and reunite them with their relatives, provide emergency psychological support, distribute food packages and hygiene items, and give temporary shelter.

Over the past week, the Lebanese Red Cross has mobilised more than 75 ambulances and 375 medical staff to provide vital medical assistance to the people affected by the explosion. It has also set up medical posts and responded to the pressing need for shelter. More than 1,000 families have accessed Red Cross shelters, where they received food, hygiene items and psychosocial support.

How you can help

If you would like to support any of our partners who are responding in Beirut directly, please visit their websites:

Médecins San Frontières (MSF)

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Save the Children

Red Cross


War Child


In the Netherlands, you can donate via Giro555, which is coordinating the emergency appeal on behalf of 11 Dutch aid organisations.

Many local organisations are also working on the ground to help people affected by the blast including Impact Lebanon, Offre Joie, One Lebanon, Arc en Ciel and March Lebanon.