Swiss Humanitarian Aid ends rapid-response mission in Beirut

A woman looks at rescuers searching at the site of a collapsed building in Beirut on September 4. A pulsing signal was detected the day before, raising hopes there may be a survivor buried there. Keystone

Thirty-eight experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) have assisted in the immediate aftermath of the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4. The seven experts still on the ground will complete their immediate deployment on Saturday and return to Switzerland.

This content was published on September 4, 2020 - 18:07

The Swiss, who arrived in the Lebanese capital within 40 hours of the blast, examined the stability of more than 80 damaged buildings, supported maternal and child healthcare in two hospitals and helped repair 19 schools, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

Further support measures will be entrusted to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the Swiss embassy in Beirut and a Swiss construction expert, it added.

The explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4 claimed some 180 lives and injured over 6,500 people. The shock wave triggered by the blast destroyed entire streets in the vicinity of the port. In addition, 178 schools and several hospitals were damaged or destroyed. The Swiss embassy also sustained damage.

In response to the situation, Switzerland initially concentrated its aid on structural engineering and securing hazardous materials. It subsequently directed its support to the health sector and the reconstruction of schools.

In total, the SDC is providing around CHF6 million ($6.6 million) to support the population in Beirut. Of this, CHF2 million is allocated each to direct support in the health sector and education. CHF1 million is earmarked for the Caritas Switzerland project. The remaining CHF1 million will be halved between the Lebanese Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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