Jumat, 07 Agustus 2020

Australians rally to support Lebanon as death toll hits 157 - Sydney Morning Herald

The Lebanese diaspora is rallying to raise donations for hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and in need of medical and food supplies after the Beirut port warehouse explosion.

Australian human rights advocate and aid worker Samah Hadid who survived the blast after it ripped through her apartment, a kilometre from the port, has called for international support and aid.

Emergency workers search a collapsed building in Beirut, Lebanon.

Emergency workers search a collapsed building in Beirut, Lebanon. Credit:Getty Images

On Friday there were growing concerns inside and outside Lebanon that its leaders are unable to respond effectively to the disaster that killed at least 157 people, injured 5000 others and left up to 300,000 homeless. French President Emmanuel Macron offered France's support for the Lebanese people on a visit to Beirut, but said Lebanon would "continue to sink" unless its leaders carry out reforms.

Focusing on the humanitarian crisis, Ms Hadid said the country had experienced a great deal of hardship.

Samah Hadid in Beirut after she survived the blast.

Samah Hadid in Beirut after she survived the blast.

"They've seen wars, they've seen terrorism, they've seen disasters and now they are facing this. They can only suffer so much," she said.

Ms Hadid said support should be given to charities such as the Lebanese Red Cross.

She said an estimated 300,000 people were now homeless in Lebanon. The economic crisis had meant it was already facing shortages of food, blood supplies and medical supplies.

"Now the port has been destroyed, there is a fear that hunger will rise," Ms Hadid said.

Ms Hadid heads up advocacy and communications for an aid organisation in Beirut and was a 2010 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. She has also advised international organisations and governments on human rights issues.

The 32-year-old grew up in a Lebanese family in Bankstown in Sydney's west and has been living in Beirut for about five years.

A photo of Samah Hadid's flat before she fled after the Beirut explosion.

A photo of Samah Hadid's flat before she fled after the Beirut explosion.

She said she felt lucky to have escaped with her life just moments before the ceiling in her flat started collapsing after the blast.

Matthew Cochrane, an Australian spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said emergency assistance and blood was urgently needed in the devastated city. He said the British Red Cross and Lebanese Red Cross were collecting donations for a Beirut emergency appeal.

Mr Chochrane said donations were for emergency medical assistance, blood and basic services for thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods, "and who now face an uncertain future".

“This disaster has devastated Beirut," Mr Cochrane said.

Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said staff had been working non-stop in Beirut.

"We are readying to mount a wider humanitarian response," he said.

“In Australia, we are urging the public to support our Children’s Emergency Fund, which helps children affected by crises all over the world, and will help support our response in Beirut as well as the broader economic and health crisis in Lebanon.”

Australia's Lebanese Muslim Association has started collecting money and donations of medical supplies to send to the Beirut Red Cross and other volunteer organisations. This follows its fundraising effort since April for food parcels to help with the fallout from the economic crisis.

"As Australians we have always proven our values by assisting people in need," Association president Samier Dandan.

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2020-08-07 09:15:00Z

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