Home / Netherlands / Aid staff in Beirut: ‘City literally and figuratively beaten in the heart’ | NOW

Aid staff in Beirut: ‘City literally and figuratively beaten in the heart’ | NOW

36-year-old Oana Bara has lived and worked in Beirut for the Red Cross since 2017. On Tuesday, she witnessed the explosion in the harbor up close and told NU.nl about her experiences. “We are still in survival mode.”

“The explosion was huge, half the city has been destroyed,” said the German-Romanian aid worker, who, like many of her Red Cross colleagues, lives near the port of the Lebanese capital.

“My apartment is 500 meters from the harbor. During the explosion I looked at another apartment further away from the harbor, but still within a kilometer. We were thrown against the wall by the shock wave. At first I thought it was a gas explosion, but then I saw the huge the cloud outside. “

According to Governor Marwan Abboud, about a quarter of a million people were made homeless in one case. Bara and her colleagues also had to leave their injured homes behind. They have now been housed in an emergency shelter run by the Red Cross, which is also open to other residents whose houses have been destroyed.

“When I got to my house, all the windows were broken and rubbish was everywhere. Many people were injured on the street. With the Red Cross and many volunteers, we try to help the victims as best we can, but we are still in survival mode. We are still trying to understand what exactly what happened. “

Still in danger of collapsing buildings and gas explosions

According to the authorities, the death toll rose to 1

35 on Wednesday, while about 5,000 injuries have been registered. It is feared that these numbers will increase significantly, as dozens of people are still missing. “People are still being taken out of the rubble,” Bara said.

The work of the Red Cross is complicated by the city’s still uncertain conditions. “Damaged buildings still collapse on every turn. Small gas explosions still happen everywhere. These are extremely dangerous conditions,” says Bara.

According to Red Cross employees, the explosion could not have had any major effect anywhere. “The area around the harbor is the liveliest district in the city and also the entertainment area. This disaster has literally and figuratively hit the heart of the city.”

Before the explosion in the capital, Lebanon was already in great need. Due to the economic crisis in which the country finds itself, inflation is sky high and many daily commodities have become almost unaffordable.

Hospitals were already full due to the outbreak of COVID-19. “The hospitals are already completely congested. They were already due to the coronavirus and they can not handle the consequences of this disaster at all,” says Bara. “This country is already experiencing so many setbacks. Adding to this is a terrible disaster.”

International support “wonderful to see and desperately needed”

On Wednesday night, a rescue team with 67 specialists left Beirut from the Netherlands. Other countries are also helping Lebanon to overcome this catastrophe, Bara for the benefit of Bara.

“The international support that is now going on is beautiful to see, but also desperately needed. We need all the help we can get.”

Many questions were received from people who asked how they could help via the answering platform NUjij. According to Bara, money is needed mainly to pay for all necessities.

“We have a great shortage of medical equipment, staff and medicines. The victims also need protection, food and clean water. People can donate directly through the site of the Lebanese Red Cross or through the Dutch Red Cross.”

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