Swiss Humanitarian Aid completes rapid response mission in Beirut
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Swiss Humanitarian Aid completes rapid response mission in Beirut

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80 buildings inspected, numerous schools and hospitals repaired by the Swiss

Over the past month, 38 experts deployed by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) have been working in the Lebanese capital to assist in the immediate aftermath of the explosion on 4 August 2020. They have examined the stability of damaged buildings, supported maternal and child health care in two hospitals and helped to repair 19 schools. Swiss Humanitarian Aid’s rapid response mission came to an end on the 5th September, with further support measures entrusted to the Swiss cooperation office at the Swiss embassy in Beirut.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid completes rapid response mission in Beirut

One month after the devastating explosion in Beirut, the consequences are still very much in evidence in the Lebanese capital. Switzerland sent experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit to Beirut within 40 hours of the blast. A total of 38 SHA members have been deployed in Beirut to date, seven of whom are still on the ground.

The explosion in Beirut’s port on 4 August claimed some 180 lives and injured over 6,500 people. The shock wave triggered by the blast destroyed entire streets in the vicinity of the port. In addition, 178 schools and several hospitals were damaged or destroyed. The Swiss embassy also sustained damage.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid completes rapid response mission in Beirut

In response to the situation, Switzerland initially concentrated its aid on structural engineering and securing hazardous materials. It subsequently directed its support to the health sector and the reconstruction of schools.

Swiss construction experts are also supporting the repair work at 19 state schools. The schools are being selected in cooperation with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education, with particular emphasis on schools for the poorer sections of the Lebanese population and for Syrian and Palestinian refugees. This support will enable some of the schools to resume teaching at the end of September 2020. The SDC is also contributing to a Caritas Switzerland project in Beirut to improve access to quality education.

In total, the SDC is providing around CHF 6 million to support the population in Beirut. Of this, CHF 2 million is allocated each to direct support in the health sector and education. CHF 1 million is earmarked for the Caritas Switzerland project. The remaining CHF 1 million will be halved between the Lebanese Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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