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Latter-day Saint Charities has donated nearly $2 million to help after Port of Beirut blast

The Aug. 4 blast at the Port of Beirut killed 200 people and displaced 300,000 more. At least 80,000 children were displaced

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An example of the devastation in Beirut after the Aug. 4, 2020, explosion that killed 200 and left fewer than half of the city’s hospitals fully operational.

Roula Akiki, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

SALT LAKE CITY — Latter-day Saint Charities has used six partnerships to provide nearly $2 million worth of food and medical supplies to victims and to help relief efforts since the explosion in Beirut earlier this month.

Lebanon already was in a severe crisis before the Aug. 4 blast at the Port of Beirut killed 200 people and displaced 300,000 more. About a quarter of the entire population of the country are refugees from elsewhere, mostly from Syria and Palestine.

The Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prioritized food and the medical needs of hospitals as part of a yearslong effort to relieve suffering in Lebanon.

“We are grateful for the generous donations of Latter-day Saints around the world, which make it possible for us to quickly respond to this unexpected crisis,” Area President Elder Anthony D. Perkins said in a news release. “We appreciate working with our trusted humanitarian partners to help provide needed medical supplies and food. The good people of Lebanon continue to be in our prayers during this difficult time.”

The explosion happened in a warehouse full of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. The blast obliterated the building and caused damage for miles. At least 80,000 children were displaced, according to news reports.

Hospitals were strained before the incident because of a poor economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one of the organizations Latter-day Saint Charities has partnered with, MedGlobal. It is using the church’s funding to provide medicine, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and other supplies to four local hospitals and mobile clinics.

The money also is supporting training for health care workers about identifying those with mental health needs.

Another LDSC partner, Project Hope, said fewer than half of Beirut’s 55 health care centers are fully operational, with the blast destroying or damaging 37%.

Project Hope and the Rene Moawad Foundation are providing emergency health supplies, including 165 pallets of medications, syringes, bandages, gauze and N95 masks, the news release said.

Latter-day Saint Charities regularly works with partners already on the ground in areas around the world. For example, the International Medical Corps had a warehouse and a staff of nearly 300 already in Lebanon at the time of the blast, which helped it accelerate the launch of the emergency response and aid the coordination between the government and international relief agencies like LDSC.

The Latter-day Saint Charities donation to the International Medical Corps is providing 3,000 hygiene and sanitization kits for patients at health centers in Beirut while money given to The Adventist Development and Relief Agency will provide food vouchers to families and support the revival of local businesses.

Many of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are living in informal shelters in urban centers like Beirut. Three quarters of them live on less than $3.84 per day.

“We know that there will be significant humanitarian needs in Lebanon for a long time to come,” said the church’s area Welfare manager, Boyce Fitzgerald. “It is a priority for us to serve as the Savior Jesus Christ would serve, and we will continue working with our local partners to provide basic food and shelter assistance.”

Latter-day Saint Charities is also partnering with Rahma Worldwide, which purchased food baskets and hygiene kits for 5,000 families, and Convoy of Hope, which is helping displaced families and elderly people with food, water and medical support. That donation by Latter-day Saint Charities also supports debris removal and home cleanup in Beirut.

The church’s area presidency grieved with the victims in a statement released the day after the explosion.

“We are thankful that none of our members were injured in the explosion, and we mourn with those who lost loved ones,” said the church’s Beirut Lebanon District President, Maroun Akiki. “This is a challenging time in our country, but the Lebanese people once again showed wonderful solidarity and compassion toward each other. We will continue to help and serve however we can.”