LONDON: Lebanese across the country have opened their houses to people left homeless by Tuesday’s explosion at Beirut port.
“I see this as a chance to help everyone who’s really going through the worst. I don’t wish a crisis like this on anybody, and I hope that everybody can come together and offer whatever they can to help,” Cyrus Azad, an American University of Beirut student, whose family sheltered those affected, told Arab News.
The massive explosion that rocked the capital has killed at least 135 people, wounded over 4,000, and has left more than 300,000 people homeless due to severe damage.
Many in the country have offered temporary shelter for those affected by the blast.
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Baytna Baytak, which translates to “My house is yours,” is among groups connecting the homeless with temporary places to stay.
The initiative was initially created to house Lebanese nurses and doctors who were at the forefront of the country’s battle with the coronavirus and could not return home in fear of infecting their families.
“Baytna Baytak’s mission is to secure a location in which medical and Red Cross teams can sleep so they can focus on their daily duties without having to worry about transportation (some of them live far from their place of work) or about commuting and exposing their families to the virus (some of them live with elderly people),” Jawad Abboud, a Baytna Baytak member, told Arab News.
“Today and after the apocalyptic Beirut blast, we have decided to expand our mission to find shelters to as many individuals as possible who have lost their homes and have nowhere to sleep,” he added.
Following the explosion’s disastrous impact on the capital’s infrastructure, Baytna Baytak expanded its services and network “to provide faster and more effective housing solutions for families who lost their homes,” an Instagram post said.
The post included numbers for call centers that are taking donations, volunteers and those in need, as well as hotlines for mental health and lifeline, food and clothing donations.
“A lot of my friends and their friends who lived in the Mar Mikhael area lost their homes to the damage, so naturally my family and I opened the doors to our home to them and told them they can stay as long as they need to get on their feet and figure things out,” Azad said.
“I would never want to be in such a position and I’m very grateful that my home and family weren’t as affected as they were,” he added.
Lebanese officials have opened investigations into the cause of the explosion, which is said to be caused by 2,700 tons of neglected ammonium nitrate confiscated from a Russian-leased cargo ship in 2014. While some government officials claim they have repeatedly requested the removal of these chemicals from the port, rampant corruption and negligence left them – like countless other requests – unanswered.
Citizens and residents of the country say they know that the government will not do much to help, with promised financial aid to the poorest families hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic failing to arrive. As a result, the Lebanese have relied on each other for support and aid during difficult times, such as the Beirut blast.
“It showed how the humanity of random people could help society and how much the Lebanese were thankful for the actions of the front-line heroes, and were happy to show their support throughout the whole pandemic,” Abboud said.
For those who want to donate and help:
People who have houses/studios/hotel rooms to offer or would like to contribute can visit baytnabaytak.com
For cash donations: +96181233092
For accommodation needs: +96179139537
For donations towards accommodations of those in need: +96179139586