The blast damaged Caritas headquarters. The charity is “ready to hand out aid,” said Fr Paul Karam, who stresses that “psychological support" to victims’ families is also fundamental. Some 200 employees and volunteers divided into 15 groups are already at work. Catholic schools and convents are open to those left homeless. AsiaNews and the PIME Foundation are ready to help the victims.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – “People who lost their homes in the blast need food, medicine, clothes and a roof,” said Fr Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon.
The clergyman spoke to AsiaNews about the first steps taken by the Catholic charity to help Beirut residents hit by the powerful explosions that tore through parts of the city.
The blasts and subsequent shock wave (pictured) struck Caritas headquarters as well, causing damage "to at least 10 floors of the building" which houses the Catholic charity; fortunately, its priests and employees inside were spared, left unharmed.
"I just ended a meeting to assign tasks,” said Fr Paul. “We are already taking action and are ready to hand out aid, like food and medicine, as well as clothing.”
At this stage, those affected and the families of those who died need psychological support as well as material aid.
“We have set up support groups with doctors, psychologists and experts," he explained. Some people "still know nothing about the fate of friends and family".
To cope with the emergency, Caritas Lebanon is making a huge effort with at least "200 workers and volunteers divided in 15 different groups.”
"We just set up field tents near the area where the explosion occurred, to start handing out food and medicine. Obviously, no distinctions are made between Christians and Muslims. We look at those in need, not their identity card, religion or country of origin.”
For the Caritas Lebanon president, food, clothes, medicines and shelter "are the first things to provide in an emergency.” At the same time, “we are also making available convents and schools, providing hospitality and a place for the needy, families who have no help.”
“To do this, we have designated a group to take care of the logistics and arrange help for the various families.” Some of them “refuse to leave their homes and prefer to sleep on broken glass and debris. Others have nothing; everything they had was destroyed, and urgently need shelter.”
The incident comes at a really bad time for Lebanon. The country had already been grappling "with a very serious economic crisis, exacerbated by the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
For many families, “things were already difficult; now this tragedy with more than a hundred dead and thousands injured.”
Yesterday, after the explosion, "there was great fear that it might be the start of a new war" with a possible "reaction by Lebanon’s Hezbollah to an attack by Israel. Later, we learnt that it was just an accident.”
In order to help the people of Beirut and Lebanon, as well as Caritas Lebanon, AsiaNews is launching a campaign to ‘Help devastated Beirut’. Those who want to contribute can make a donation to:
- International Bank Account Number (IBAN): IT78C0306909606100000169898
- Bank Identifier Code (BIC): BCITITMM
- Reason for transfer: AN04 – HELP DEVASTATED BEIRUT