The World Health Organisation (WHO) is appealing for $15 million to cover emergency health needs in Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion that hit amid an economic crisis and rising coronavirus cases.
The blast, which killed more than 150 and injured more than 5,000, also destroyed 17 containers holding WHO medical supplies including personal protective equipment, the agency’s regional office for the Middle East said in a statement late on Thursday.
Five hospitals in the area affected by Tuesday’s blast are either not functioning or partially functioning, and early reports indicate that many health centres and primary care facilities are also damaged or out of action, it said.
Up to 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes and need food or shelter, which “also risks accelerating the spread of COVID-19 and the outbreak of other diseases,” said Iman Shankiti, WHO Representative to Lebanon.
The WHO said that, together with the American University of Beirut, it was planning an environmental assessment on the impact of the fumes caused by the explosion of ammonium nitrate.
The United States has pledged over $17 million in initial disaster aid for Lebanon, following Tuesday’s Beirut port explosion, the U.S. embassy said on Friday.
It said in a statement that the aid included food assistance, medical supplies and financial assistance for the Lebanese Red Cross. “Announcements of additional aid and assistance are forthcoming,” it added.
U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday discussed working together with other countries to send immediate aid to Lebanon, the White House said.
The two leaders spoke by phone and “expressed their deep sadness over the loss of life and devastation in Beirut,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut’s port killed 154 people, injured 5,000 and smashed a swathe of the city.
France and other countries around the world have rushed emergency aid to Lebanon, including doctors, and tons of health equipment and food. The United States has not provided any aid thus far.
Trump said this week Washington stood ready to help, but no details of any U.S. aid package have been released.
On Thursday, Macron visited Beirut and assured angry crowds that aid to rebuild the city would not go to “corrupt hands”.
The cause of the blast remains under investigation.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday said the probe would examine whether it was caused by a bomb, a prospect first raised publicly by Trump on Tuesday, hours after the blast.
Asked about the issue again on Wednesday, Trump said nobody could say for certain whether the explosion could have been caused by an attack.