Geneva, 18 August 2020
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is in Beirut today, starting a four-day visit to support and listen to the plight of all those affected by the devastating blast a fortnight ago – people of Lebanon, migrants and refugees alike. This is the first field mission for the High Commissioner since the COVID-19 first wave lockdown and it is a reaffirmation of UNHCR’s solidarity and commitment to stand by Lebanon.
Operations in support of Lebanese communities and refugees remain a top priority for UNHCR. Relative to its national population, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees in the world.
Beyond the immediate and longer-term impact of the tragic explosion of 4 August, UNHCR is concerned about the combined effect of a severe economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. These three factors together are harming the most vulnerable and poorest parts of the population throughout the country.
After seeing the ongoing response in the most affected neighborhoods and meetings in the capital tomorrow, High Commissioner Grandi will dedicate the next days to review UNHCR’s overall humanitarian response in other parts of the country.
UNHCR is scaling up its response to all communities affected by the blast in Beirut to provide immediate relief, shelter and protection support. Together with its partners, UNHCR is providing emergency shelter materials to those most in need among an estimated 200,000 households that were severely damaged in the explosions in Beirut. UNHCR is also conducting psychological first aid and other urgent measures for the protection of those affected.
Grandi will also visit northern Lebanon and the Bekaa, and notably the expansion of hospital bed and ICU capacity that we have put in place in public hospitals to face the COVID-19.
UNHCR is further scaling up this programme given that local hospitals are overwhelmed.
Grandi will visit Syrian refugees, who have been severely affected by the economic crisis and COVID-19 measures, living a razor-edge existence, struggling to make ends meet.
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
This Briefing Note is available here.
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