MCC responding to explosion in Beirut

August 10, 2020 | Web First
Linda Espenshade | Mennonite Central Committee
The city of Beirut, Lebanon, shown here in this panoramic view before the explosion, was damaged extensively Tuesday by an explosion thought to be caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate. (Photo by dasMaddin/iStock)

Mennonite Central Committee is responding to the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, that caused extensive damage throughout the capital city on Aug. 4. 

The blast is believed to have been caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate, used for fertilizer and explosives, stored unsafely in a warehouse at the city’s port.

“The damage all over Beirut is extensive. It looks like a war zone,” said Garry Mayhew, MCC representative for Iraq, Lebanon and Syria with his wife, Kate Mayhew. The Mayhews are from Plymouth, Minnesota.

All six of MCC’s international and national staff and the Mayhews’ two children living in Lebanon are safe. Some MCC staff members’ apartments were damaged, one extensively.

MCC is working with its partners that have requested assistance to meet a variety of needs, including cleanup and rehabilitation. MCC staff will assess needs over the coming days to determine the details of the response.

MCC’s partners primarily work with Syrian refugees and other vulnerable people in Beirut, providing food vouchers and humanitarian assistance; psychosocial and educational support for girls; primary health care, kindergarten and peacebuilding activities. Recently MCC provided COVID-19 hygiene kits to Syrian refugees living in unofficial refugee camps.

Lebanon was dealing with political conflict and an economic crisis that threatened to destabilize the country before the explosion. The economic crisis was already causing limited food supplies and now that the port is destroyed, food supply is a concern.

In Canada, MCC is appealing in partnership with the Humanitarian Coalition. The Government of Canada will match individual donations made from Aug. 4 until Aug. 24 up to a total of $2 million. Individual donations made to MCC in Canada will be matched and allocated through the Humanitarian Coalition. MCC is a member of the Humanitarian Coalition through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Donations to support MCC’s response can be made online at mcccanada.ca/beirut-response, by calling 1-888-622-6337, or by contacting your local MCC office.

More articles about Mennonite Central Committee:
EU grant helps MCC support peacebuilding projects in Middle East
MCC announces program cuts, changes due to COVID-19
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The city of Beirut, Lebanon, shown here in this panoramic view before the explosion, was damaged extensively Tuesday by an explosion thought to be caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate. (Photo by dasMaddin/iStock)

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