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WHO Appeals for $76 Million to Help Lebanon

A banner with representations of the Lebanese flag hangs on a damaged building in a neighborhood near the site of last week's explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 12, 2020.

The World Health Organization is making a worldwide appeal for $76 million in aid to Lebanon a week after a massive explosion in Beirut devastated the port and destroyed hospitals, clinics and stores of medical supplies.

“In particular, we are concerned about the return of COVID-19 in Lebanon. We have launched an appeal for $76 million and ask the international community to support the Lebanese people and show solidarity with them in every way possible,” WHO regional program director Rana Hajjeh said.

She added that the WHO is also concerned about the psychological suffering of those who were wounded, lost loved ones or are homeless after the blast.

WHO officials said the explosion put three hospitals totally out of commission and left three others only partially open. It cut the number of hospital beds by as many as 600. Half of Beirut’s 55 primary health care clinics cannot function.

WHO emergencies director Rick Brennan said there were 309 new coronavirus cases in Lebanon on Tuesday and that people, including those at hospitals, have relaxed protective measures.

The WHO has already brought in tons of medical and surgical supplies, including protective gear, and reported that 11 emergency medical teams from around the world are in Beirut.

Ammonium nitrate that had likely been improperly stored at the port for years is the widely suspected cause of the August 4 explosion in Beirut that killed at least 170 people and injured 6,000.

The blast also destroyed or heavily damaged buildings across the Lebanese capital.