In a joint statement, the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, and Middle East Council of Churches appealed to address the most urgent needs in the wake of the catastrophic explosion that ripped through the heart of Beirut on 4 August.
“We stand in solidarity with the bereaved, the injured, the displaced and the suffering,” reads the appeal. “On behalf of the international ecumenical community, ACT Alliance is launching an appeal as part of the international humanitarian response to this disaster, and we join in calling on the international community for a comprehensive humanitarian mechanism of coordination and collaboration with Lebanese civil society.”
The three organizations also recognize and lift up the swift and effective actions taken by Lebanese civil society to respond and to alleviate the suffering of those affected. “The civil society response to the disaster is a significant sign of hope, strengthening people’s capacity to overcome this enormous crisis and to restore hope in the society for the future of the nation,” reads the statement. “There must be real accountability for this disaster, through an independent investigation.”
The organizations call on the international community, through the UN, to ensure that the causes of this disaster are investigated and established by a credible independent process, that those responsible are brought to justice, and that impunity is avoided.
“While immediate humanitarian assistance is essential and fundamental, ensuring long-term resilience is crucial for Lebanon’s sustainable recovery from multiple shocks – bringing together humanitarian, development and peace and human security components in a comprehensive systemic approach,” the statement reads. “The explosion and its consequences compound a deep pre-existing economic and social crisis, with 50% of Lebanese people living under the poverty line and 400,000 suffering displacement.”
The statement urges a comprehensive, detailed and sustained engagement to ensure lasting positive impact.
“This is a critical and historical existential moment for Lebanon – a haven for religious and social diversity in the Middle East – and as such, we are all concerned and called upon to help ensure Lebanon’s survival,” reads the statement. “With all the tragedies and challenges of its past and present, Lebanon stands as a sign and symbol of living together in diversity.”