Beirut explosion: Switzerland steps up relief aid

Press release, 14.08.2020

The immense scale of the explosion in the Lebanese capital on 4 August has severely affected the country's health system. On 13 and 14 August 2020, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs sent more Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit experts to Beirut.

The powerful explosion which occurred on 4 August 2020 damaged a large number of the city's hospitals. Four hospitals were severely affected and there is now a shortage of 500 beds which are urgently needed. Switzerland is therefore sending another six medical experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to Beirut to provide assistance with healthcare for mothers and their children.

The Federal Air Transport Service aircraft flew the SHA members from Bern-Belp Airport to Beirut on Friday 14 August 2020, carrying on board an additional 1.5 tonnes of medical supplies for surgical operations, paediatric care and obstetrics. A rapid response team deployed by Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which falls under the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), has been working in Beirut since 6 August 2020.

Damaged schools and hospitals
The shock wave caused by the explosion damaged countless buildings in the capital, including hospitals. An SHA construction expert in Beirut is currently overseeing the repair work on two hospitals, one of which will soon be able to start treating patients again. The Swiss team has already checked the stability of more than 80 public buildings in the city.

Thousands of pupils to return to school
The explosion also damaged more than 120 schools. Repairing these schools is essential so that the thousands of children and young people who have been affected can continue their education. With Switzerland's support, six schools should be ready by the start of the new school term in September.

CHF 5 million for the people of Beirut
Switzerland responded quickly to the humanitarian emergency caused by the explosion. Of the CHF 5 million in relief aid released by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, CHF 4 million has been allocated to the city's schools and health facilities. The remaining CHF 1 million will be halved between the Lebanese Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs