An emergency food package of £226,000 (250,000EUR) is to be rushed out to Beirut by a leading Catholic charity in the wake of this week’s huge explosion, writes John Pontifex.
The Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) grant will target poor families worst affected by the blast which devastated the port area of the Lebanese capital.
At least 100 people were killed and 4,000 others were injured when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse exploded.
Speaking from Beirut, ACN project partner Fr Raymond Abdo told the charity: “The explosion felt like an atomic bomb with red smoke everywhere and huge damage.”
ACN Lebanon expert Fr Samer Nassif, said that the Christian zone of Beirut was “completely devastated”, with at least 10 churches destroyed, 300,000 people homeless and many others suffering, with livelihoods “totally destroyed” by the blast.
Speaking on Wednesday 5th August, he said: “Yesterday in one second, more damage to the Christian quarter of Beirut was done than throughout the long years of the civil war.
“We have to build it again from the ground up.”
Frs Abdo and Nassif said that, after the long-running economic crisis and the coronavirus, Lebanon is ill-equipped to deal with the emergency and urgently needed international help for the people’s basic needs.
In “An Appeal to the Countries of the World” sent on Wednesday 5th August, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, President of the Conference of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, said: “Beirut is a devastated city.
“Beirut, the fiancée of the East and the beacon of the West, is wounded.
“It’s a war scene – there is destruction and desolation in all its streets, its districts and its houses.”
Fr Abdo described how at a convent not far from his monastery, a sick, elderly religious Sister died from her injuries in the blast.
The Carmelite priest said she was the only one not in the convent dining room at the time of the blast and, had the others been in their rooms, many would have died or been seriously wounded.
Aid to the Church in Need is appealing for prayer for the victims and their families.
Picture: Panic and first rescue services at the site of the explosion. (Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/PA).