GENEVA / LEBANON BLAST

07-Aug-2020 00:03:15
UN aid agencies today issued warnings over the critical humanitarian crisis faced by Lebanon in the aftermath of the huge blast at the port of Beirut on Tuesday (4 Aug) that left more than 150 people dead and around 5,000 people injured, putting further pressure on a weakened health care system in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / LEBANON BLAST
TRT: 3:15
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE
SHOTLIST
FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1.Wide shot, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations, flag alley, a beautiful day

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2.SOUNDBITE (English) Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Spokesperson:
“80,000 and up to 100,000 children are among those whose homes were damaged or destroyed and who are now displaced. Many households have very unlimited water and electricity. The ‘Assamese birth and pediatric Karantina’ hospital which had a specialized unit treating newborns who required critical care was totally destroyed. 16 other primary health care centers serving 160,000 people have sustained some damage. ten containers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including hundreds of thousands of gloves, gowns, masks that were just procured by the Ministry of Public Health for the Covid response were destroyed.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

3.Med shot, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations, flag alley

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

4.SOUNDBITE (English) Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Spokesperson:
“UNICEF’s immediate priorities are to replace damaged PPE and other medical products and to procure critical supplies that health services require now, to distribute water and hygiene materials, to reunite children separated from their families and provide psycho-social support for those dealing with shock, trauma and bereavement.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

5. Wide shot, UN Geneva, Pregny Gate, Palais des Nations

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

6.SOUNDBITE (English) Elisabeth Byrs, Spokesperson of the World Food Programme (WFP):
“WFP is concerned that the explosion and the damage to the port will exacerbate an already grim food security situation that has worsened because of the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

7. Wide shot, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations, flag alley

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

8.SOUNDBITE (English) Elisabeth Byrs, Spokesperson of the World Food Programme (WFP):
“As Lebanon imports nearly 85 per cent of its food, the severe damage to the Port of Beirut could limit the flow of food supplies into the country and push food prices beyond the reach of many.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

9.Med shot, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations flag alley seen from the Places des Nations
10.Med shot, UN Geneva, Palais des Nations, flag alley, a beautiful day

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

11.SOUNDBITE (English) Charlie Yaxley, Spokesperson of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“Given the impact of the massive explosion we fear that the casualties and injured may also include refugees living in Beirut. Some of the areas severely affected by the powerful blast include neighborhoods that hosted refugees and while we continue to assess the situation we have received initial unconfirmed reports of several deaths among refugees in Beirut”.

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

12.Med shot, UN entry with flag alley

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

13.SOUNDBITE (English) Charlie Yaxley, Spokesperson of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):

“Hundreds of thousands of people who had their homes completely or partially damaged in the explosion so the need for shelter is massive. UNHCR is making available its country stocks of shelter kits, plastic sheets, rub halls and tens of thousands of other core relief items including blankets and mattresses for immediate distribution and use.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

14.Med shot, UN Palais with flags

7 AUGUST 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

15.SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“With large swathes of Beirut unfit to live in, the country’s principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knees, the situation is really dire. And dire was actually a word we used a month ago before this happened. Victims’ calls for accountability must be heard, including through undertaking an impartial, independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion. and you can hear the call for that very loud and clear on the streets of Beirut.”

FILE – RECENT – GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

16.Med shot, anti-war sculpture, looking out onto Place des Nations, Geneva, with UN Geneva beyond.
17. Wide shot, “broken chair” sculpture, Place des Nations, with UN Geneva to rear
STORYLINE
UN aid agencies issued warnings over the critical humanitarian crisis faced by Lebanon in the aftermath of the huge blast at the port of Beirut on Tuesday (4 Aug) that left more than 150 people dead and around 5,000 people injured. Among those injured, 120 are in critical condition and require delicate surgeries, putting further pressure on a weakened health care system in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“80,000 and up to 100,000 children are among those whose homes were damaged or destroyed and who are now displaced. Many households have very unlimited water and electricity”, said Marixie Mercado, UNICEF’s spokesperson at a press briefing today (7 Aug) at the UN in Geneva.

“The Assameh birth and pediatric in Karantina hospital which had a specialized unit treating newborns who required critical care was totally destroyed,” Ms. Mercado said.

She added, “sixteen other primary health care centers serving 160,000 people have sustained some damage. Ten containers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including hundreds of thousands of gloves, gowns, masks that were just procured by the Ministry of Public Health for the Covid response were destroyed.”

A fire at a warehouse at the Port of Beirut led to a huge blast on Tuesday causing massive material damage in several neighborhoods of the capital. Whilst the number of child casualties is unclear, thousands of children’s lives have been turned upside down, with many traumatized and in shock.

“UNICEF’s immediate priorities are to replace damaged PPE and other medical products and to procure critical supplies that health services require now, to distribute water and hygiene materials, to reunite children separated from their families and provide psycho-social support for those dealing with shock, trauma and bereavement”, Mercado told reporters.

The blast rocked Lebanon while the country is experiencing its worst economic crisis, including a dramatic drop in the value of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar.

The port of Beirut is the main lifeline of the country as both an economic hub and the main entry point for many essential medicines and supplies. Food supplies are likely to be interrupted and prices might jump up, said a spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP). The WFP is sending 5,000 food parcels to Lebanon, each designed to support a family of five for one month.

She added, “WFP is concerned that the explosion and the damage to the port will exacerbate an already grim food security situation that has worsened because of the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic”, said WFP’s Elisabeth Byrs. “As Lebanon imports nearly 85 percent of its food, the severe damage to the port of Beirut could limit the flow of food supplies into the country and push food prices beyond the reach of many.”

Nearly 120,000 tons of food, mainly cereals, have been destroyed with the destruction of Lebanon’s only port-based grains silo.

According to official estimates, more than 300,000 people’s homes have been completely or partially damaged during this explosion, displacing their inhabitants.

“Given the impact of the massive explosion we fear that the casualties and injured may also include refugees living in Beirut,” said Charlie Yaxley, a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said.

He continued, “some of the areas severely affected by the powerful blast include neighborhoods that hosted refugees and while we continue to assess the situation we have received initial unconfirmed reports of several deaths among refugees in Beirut.”

According to UNHCR, Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita, with a Government estimate of 1.5 million Syrian refugees, some 20,000 refugees of other origins, in addition to the Palestine refugees under UNRWA's mandate.

UNHCR’s reception centres across the country, including in Beirut, are open for emergency cases, with all COVID-19 related social distancing measures in place, and the national call centre as well as regional hotlines are ready to respond to requests for assistance.

“Hundreds of thousands of people who had their homes completely or partially damaged in the explosion so the need for shelter is massive,” Mr. Yaxley said.

He added, “ UNHCR is making available its country stocks of shelter kits, plastic sheets, rub halls and tens of thousands of other core relief items including blankets and mattresses for immediate distribution and use.”

Spokesman Rupert Colville of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed to the triple tragedy hitting the Lebanese capital: the socio-economic crisis, COVID-19 and the ammonium nitrate explosion.

“With large swathes of Beirut unfit to live in, the country’s principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knees, the situation is really dire. And dire was actually a word we used a month ago before this happened,” Colville said, in reference to the recent catastrophic bombing.

The U.N. human rights office is backing calls for an independent investigation into the Beirut explosion, insisting that “victims’ calls for accountability must be heard, including through undertaking an impartial, independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion. and you can hear the call for that very loud and clear on the streets of Beirut.”
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