9 Aug 2020

Lebanese community in NZ raising funds for shattered homeland

8:15 am on 9 August 2020

Lebanese groups in New Zealand have come together to raise funds to help those affected by the massive explosion which caused devastation in the country's capital, Beirut.

A Lebanese protester waves the national flag during clashes with security forces in downtown Beirut on August 8, 2020,

A protester waves the national flag during anti-government protests in Beirut. Photo: AFP

The explosion at Beirut's port killed at least 158 people, injured 6000 and left 300,000 people with uninhabitable homes.

Saad Abou-Chakra is the director of the Lebanity Enterprise New Zealand Charitable Trust and is now acting as the co-ordinator of a group of Lebanese community groups organising relief for Lebanon, with the support of the Lebanese Honorary Consulate.

Abou-Chakra said they have already had interest from people of Lebanese descent and other New Zealanders who want to donate money.

He said the money raised will be given to the International Red Cross.

"New Zealanders - whether they are from Lebanese descent or other - we have the feeling that they want to help and we are very grateful for that."

Donations can be made via the Lebanity Enterprise New Zealand Charitable Trust and Lebanese Society websites and Facebook pages.

Abou-Chakra said his cousin is one of the many people injured. He said she is in a coma with head injuries, and has undergone two surgeries. It is still unclear if she will survive.

He said a huge number of houses have been damaged and had windows smashed, but many homes in central Beirut have been completely demolished, and people are still being pulled from the rubble.

BEIRUT, LEBANON - AUGUST 07: A view of damaged residences is seen after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts in Beirut, Lebanon on August 07, 2020.

One of many housing areas that have been wrecked. Photo: AFP

World Vision's field operations director in Lebanon, Rami Shamma, said one of the things the country needs right now is to be given hope.

Rami Shamma lives about 30km outside of Beirut, and said the disaster felt overwhelming.

He said the country was already struggling with a socio-economic crisis and Covid-19, and while financial support for the country is important, they also need people's prayers and a sense of hope.

"I think the sense of solidarirty that we have seen all over the world, including New Zealand, has been tremendous and the Lebanese people clearly need this kind of compassion."

There have been angry scenes in Beirut in the last few hours as protesters have tried to get into government buildings as they express their frustration over the leadership of the country.

Riot police have responded with tear gas, a policeman was killed and the Red Cross said scores of people have been injured.

Lebanese protesters clash with security forces in downtown Beirut on August 8, 2020, following a demonstration against a political leadership they blame for a monster explosion that killed more than 150 people and disfigured the capital Beirut.

Protesters express their anger in downtown Beirut. Photo: AFP


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