An estimated 300,000 people have been left homeless after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound used to make fertiliser, blew up in the port of the Lebanese capital on 4 August.
More than 160 people were killed, with a further 6,000 believed to have been injured.
The explosion, along with a severe economic crisis, has been widely blamed on decades of corruption and misrule by Lebanon’s entrenched political class and has been followed by a series of anti-government demonstrations.
International Development Minister Carolyn Labey, chairwoman of the government-backed relief organisation Jersey Overseas Aid, said that the disaster ‘couldn’t have come at a worse time’ for the nation, which has taken in 1.5 million refugees from neighbouring Syria since 2011 and is struggling to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak.
‘Like many, I was shocked at the scenes of devastation caused by last week’s explosion in Beirut,’ she said.
‘The incident couldn’t have come at a worse time for the country and has compounded an already very fragile situation with severe economic contraction, increasing poverty and rising food prices.
‘Caught up in the protracted crises across the border in Syria, the country’s weak economy, already creaking under a swollen population including a large refugee population, is likely to take years to recover and require billions of dollars. Furthermore, in early August, prior to the explosion, a record number of Covid-19 cases were announced.’
She added that Lebanon was a territory well known to JOA, which has organised a number of projects there.
‘JOA have been monitoring the situation closely, including consultations with the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other humanitarian agencies,’ she said.
‘Acknowledging the severity and scale of the incident, as well as the important role the country has played in hosting and supporting refugees, I am pleased to say that Jersey has responded with a donation to the British Red Cross for their Beirut Emergency Appeal.
‘Many Islanders will know Lebanon well having volunteered there as part of a community work project. I, myself, was a team member in 2018. I am sure they will join me, along with the whole Island, in expressing solidarity with the people of Lebanon in these challenging times.’