UN agency to give cash to Beirut blast victims

UN agency to give cash to families affected by Beirut blast
2 min read
09 December, 2020
UN-Habitat announces cash for rent payments to 800 vulnerable families affected by the Beirut blast.
Taina Christiansen, head of UN-Habitat country programme, announced the initiative in a Beirut conference [UN-Habitat]
UN-Habitat announced on Tuesday it will be giving out cash-for-rent to dozens of families in Lebanon whose homes were destroyed in the August 4 port blast that killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and ravaged a huge part of Beirut. 

Through funding from the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund [CERF], the agency will give cash for rent payments for a minimum of three months to some 800 families living in temporary accommodation, shared shelters or at the homes of their friends and families, UN-Habitat announced in a press conference held in the Lebanese capital.

In addition to covering rent payments, the agency will collaborate with aid groups to provide information and sessions raising awareness on Covid-19 preventative measures and protection against gender-based and sexual violence.

"Now, more than four months on from the Beirut blast, thousands of homes are still under repair," Taina Christiansen, head of UN-Habitat country programme in Lebanon, said during the press conference, which was held at the department of rail and public transportation in Mar Mikhael, Beirut.

"This CERF funded cash-for-rent project will more than double the current number of families who have received cash-for-rent assistance to date, providing a secure home for at least three months." 

Four months after the country's worst peacetime disaster, hundreds of families remain displaced or living in temporary accommodation, while countless others continue to live in their damaged homes, despite risk of collapse.

"Our main concern was to provide cash directly to those in need to avoid wasting the resources granted by the international bodies," Marwan Abboud, governor of Beirut said at the conference. 

"Several meetings were held with UN-Habitat to put in place an accurate mechanism for collecting statistics and verifying affected families to deliver aid to them.

"We strive to enable all people to live in dignity in the coming period."

Lebanon is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades. The value of the local currency has plummeted against the dollar, prices have soared, and poverty has risen to more than half the population.

Lebanon's government resigned after the August explosion, but talks have stalled to form a new cabinet essential to start reforms towards unlocking billions in desperately needed financial aid.

An investigation into the blast launched by Lebanese authorities has led to the arrest of 25 people, including top port and customs officials, but no conclusions have been drawn yet.

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