• Feminist Humanitarian Net

Beirut Explosion Response - Call to Action

As the acute impacts of the August 4th Beirut explosion become apparent, local and national women-led organisations across Lebanon are leading efforts to ensure that affected communities have their urgent needs met and rights upheld.

The Feminist Humanitarian Network (FHN) is a global collective of women leaders committed to a transformed humanitarian system that promotes a feminist humanitarian agenda. The Network is comprised of local and national women-led organisations in the Global South - including members in Lebanon who are leading responses to the Beirut explosion - as well as international NGOs and individuals.

The Feminist Humanitarian Network is calling on international humanitarian actors - donors, UN agencies, and INGOs - to recognise the critical leadership role local women-led actors are playing in this response. The following urgent actions calls are made by the Feminist Humanitarian Network, echoing those of women’s rights organisations leading the response in Beirut.

The psychological impacts must be recognised and prioritised in the response and addressed quickly to prevent longer term impacts on affected populations.

● Much of the humanitarian response so far has focussed on short-term relief efforts, including food distributions, which are urgently needed. However, the response must be broadened to respond, at the same time, to equally critical and urgent needs, including psychosocial support and mental health care services to those experiencing trauma. Women’s rights and women-led organisations on the frontlines note that the psychological impacts on marginalized populations are widespread and pronounced. The explosion builds on the trauma that many in Lebanon were already experiencing as a result of ongoing crises in the country, including the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic and political crisis, all while the country hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees and vulnerable migrant workers.

The specific economic impacts of the explosion on already vulnerable populations, including refugees and migrant and domestic workers, must be recognised and prioritised in the response.

● Refugees living in Lebanon were living in the most precarious settings before the blast and now, their shelters, livelihoods, and services have been further compromised by the explosion. Without the right to work in the country, refugees are in need of rapid relief efforts - including economic and cash programs - to ensure their basic needs are met.

● Before the blast, hundreds of domestic workers had been abandoned in front of their embassies or on the streets by their employers. With no legal status in Lebanon, many are unable to go home due to the high costs of repatriation flights and Covid-19 restrictions.

● Reports of aid discrimination against vulnerable groups are alarming. The needs of refugees and migrant and domestic workers must be prioritized by humanitarian actors.

Girls and women are in need of greater access to protection and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.

● The compounding crises in the country are having severe impacts on girls and women, including a surge in domestic and gender-based violence, early marriage, and limited access to SRH services. There is an urgent need to prioritize protection services to girls and women, including greater funding to women-led organizations providing access to GBV hotlines, safe shelters and social workers. With an overwhelmed health sector and strained supply chains in the country, the international community must prioritize funding directly to women’s organizations for comprehensive SRH services, including contraceptives, throughout the Lebanon response.

There is an urgent need for more flexible and accessible funding for women-led and women’s rights organizations working in Lebanon.

● Humanitarian funding continues to be a major issue, and is not currently accessible to women-led organisations and women’s rights organisations who work with refugees, LGBTQ communities, older people, people with disabilities, migrant and domestic workers, and other groups experiencing marginalisation. Local and national organisations are leading efforts to meet specific needs of the communities they work with very limited resources. Groups that are marginalised must be prioritised in this response, and the organisations that represent them, including women’s rights and women-led organisations, must be resourced to lead response efforts that will ensure those affected have their specific needs included when services are provided.

Feminist Humanitarian Network members in Lebanon are the Palestinian Women's Humanitarian Organisation (PWHO), Marsa Sexual Health Centre, and the Lebanon Family Planning Association for Development and Family Empowerment.

To support FHN members in Lebanon or for more information, please contact the Feminist Humanitarian Network.

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