50% of children affected by Beirut explosions show signs of trauma

21st August 2020

PRESS RELEASE

50% of children affected by Beirut explosions show signs of trauma

UNICEF spokespeople are available for interview

Multimedia materials available from Beirut

GENEVA/BEIRUT/DUBLIN, 21 AUGUST 2020 – Concerns are growing for children affected by the massive explosions in Beirut on August 4th, with a UNICEF assessment finding 50% of affected children are showing signs of trauma.

In the wake of the devastating blasts, that killed over 160 people and displaced 300,000 people, including 100,000 children, UNICEF and partners conducted a rapid needs assessment with families and individuals affected. The assessment showed that half of respondents reported that children in their households were showing changes in behavior or signs of trauma or extreme stress. These behaviours and symptoms can include severe anxiety; quietness or withdrawing from parents and families; nightmares and trouble sleeping; and aggressive behavior. One-third of households also reported negative symptoms among adults.

There are fears the impact of the crisis facing children in Lebanon may haunt some of them for many years to come, and speaking in Geneva this morning, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said supporting the mental health of children in the aftermath of the explosions is one of UNICEF’s major priorities. “It is clear the needs are immense. Many children will require urgent and sustained psychosocial support to address the trauma of the explosions. UNICEF’s psychosocial support comes in the form of psychosocial kits for children and parents; setting up child-friendly spaces in affected areas; and the provision of more specialized, intensive, and longer-term support for those who need it.”

The fear and trauma created by the explosions compounded existing anxieties faced by children in Lebanon in relation to ongoing public protest, insecurity, economic instability and COVID-19 lockdown.

UNICEF teams on the ground have rapidly responded to the emergency, reaching hundreds of children with psycho-social first aid, re-connecting over 60 buildings to the public water system, relocating 98% of the medications and vaccines from the central drug warehouse to safe locations, bringing in three shipments of humanitarian supplies including $3.5 milllion in PPE supplies, and supporting over 1,100 young people to clean and do minor repairs of damaged homes, and to distribute food and masks.

UNICEF Ireland has launched an emergency appeal for the children of Lebanon, with more details available at www.unicef.ie

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Notes to editors:

*Rapid assessments are being conducted by UNICEF partners on an ongoing basis to quickly assess the needs of people or families who approach organisations on the ground for assistance or support. The results included 940 respondents who were interviewed in Karantina, Geitawi and Basta neighbourhoods between 10 and 17 August.

Multimedia materials available here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AM408PWNG7K

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For more information, please contact:

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070, danny@unicef.ie