Lebanon Explosion
USAID is providing humanitarian assistance in response to catastrophic explosions that rocked the Port of Beirut in Lebanon on August 4, 2020
Michael R Czaja, PhD | USAID/BHA

Key Developments

On August 4, concurrent explosions at a warehouse near Lebanon’s Port of Beirut resulted in at least 178 deaths and injured an estimated 6,000 people, according to the Government of Lebanon (GoL).  The explosions generated broken glass and debris at least two miles away from the explosion site, encompassing an area with an estimated population of 778,000 people.  The Shelter Sector estimated that the explosions damaged at least 48,000 apartments and buildings, affecting 171,600 people.   Additionally, the incident destroyed grain silos at the port and damaged at least 26 hospitals and medical facilities in Beirut.  Relief actors identified food, health care, and shelter as immediate needs following the explosions.   

On August 5, Ambassador Dorothy Shea declared a disaster due to the effects of the explosions in Lebanon.  To date, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) has provided $15.1 million to support affected populations.  The assistance includes support to the UN World Food Program for the distribution of emergency food assistance, aiming to reach 300,000 people impacted by the explosions, as well as the distribution of six interagency emergency health kits—sufficient to provide health services to 60,000 people for three months—to the American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University.


Lebanon has experienced several large socioeconomic shocks due to overlapping crises in late 2019 and 2020, including ongoing political instability, the steep deterioration of the economy, and the emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  Hyperinflation, the depreciation of the Lebanese lira, lack of livelihood opportunities, and rising prices has diminished the purchasing power of many Lebanese households, increasing vulnerabilities.  Meanwhile, COVID-19 has strained health care system capacity and contributed to deteriorating socioeconomic conditions in the country.  In November 2019, the World Bank estimated that the combined impacts of soaring inflation and the rapid rise in the price of many basic goods could push more than 50 percent of the Lebanese population below the poverty line during 2020, an increase of approximately 20 percent compared to 2018 estimates.



Last updated: September 16, 2020

Share This Page