The deadly explosion in Beirut's port last Tuesday has left the city devastated, with at least 135 dead, 5,000 wounded and 300,000 homeless. A two-week state of emergency has been declared in the city, which has seen most of its centre obliterated and buildings destroyed in a radius of several kilometres after around 2,7000 tonnes of ammonium citrate exploded in a port facility.
The stock of ammonium citrate was confiscated in 2016 from a cargo ship, and was stored without any precautions in a harbour bunker. For years port officials had repeatedly warned authorities of the danger, but received no answer. According to Al Jazeera, the cost of Beirut's disaster could rise up to $15 billion.
Residents have been organising clean-up operations and setting up aid structures, as two of Beirut's hospitals were severely damaged by the blast and the rest are already bending under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For many people on the ground, this disaster is yet another example of mismanagement and corruption from Lebanon's political establishment. Meanwhile, violent clashes have erupted across the city, with protesters demanding the resignation of the government. As of Saturday, hundreds of protesters have been injured and one police officer was killed. Amnesty International has issued a call for an international independent investigation into the incident.
The explosion in Beirut has of course affected nearly all of the city's cultural institutions and art spaces. According to Hyperallergic, galleries and art centres closest to the blast have been totally destroyed, while others have received significant damage. The majestic palace of Sursok Museum has been severely damaged, as well as many of the exhibits in its permanent collection. Artnet, Hypebeast and The Art Newspaper have also reported on damaged and destroyed art spaces.
Thanks to their brave leadership, art institutions in Beirut were swift to find their feet and start organising aid, solidarity and fundraising campaigns. The Beirut Art Center has published a list of non-profits and humanitarian organisations where people outside of Lebanon can donate much-needed funds. Artists and collectives are also joining the effort across the world. Meanwhile, the always outspoken Ashkal Alwan has issued a short statement that takes a direct position against Lebanon's political establishment and in solidarity with the protests on the streets.
HOW TO HELP
Local activists are stressing that people outside Lebanon should not donate to governmental entities, as the funds will most likely never find their way to the people who actually need them.
The following list of relevant links will take you to organisations and initiatives that are recommended by people on the ground in Beirut, where you can donate. The list will be updated regularly.
Please note that the Lebanese Red Cross is receiving a lot of funds right now, so you could consider donating to other causes. Also note that donations to NGOs take longer to be processed and reach people, so consider donating to individual initiatives as well.
AlFanar Venture Philanthropy alfanar.org/emergencylebanon
Arc En Ciel — well-run and enterprising Lebanese development organisation https://www.arcenciel.org/donate/
Bank to School https://banktoschool.weebly.com/donate-now.html
Beit El Baraka — supporting struggling older people with food, housing and medical supplies https://www.beitelbaraka.org/
Chance Association https://chanceassociation.org/donate
Donner sang compter http://www.givingloop.org/dsc
Habibi Funk Records has released a compilation in solidarity with Beirut. All profits will be donated to the Lebanese Red Cross habibifunkrecords.bandcamp.com/album/habibi-funk-014-solidarity-with-beirut
Hammam Radio is running a fundraiser for the Anti Racism Movement and Haven for Artists. These two organisations have been providing food, shelter, and financial assistance to those who in most need of it. https://www.gofundme.com/f/we-only-have-each-other-fundraising-for-lebanon
Impact Lebanon — transparent, diaspora-led crowdfunder to provide disaster relief https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lebanon-relief?utm_term=PYp7gXzyD
Lebanon Solidarity Fund is a fundraising campaign for the art and culture community in Beirut. https://www.arabculturefund.org/News/102
Artist Raphaelle Macaron and Studio Fidèle are selling riso prints in support of Impact Lebanon. www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/lebanon-relief-fund-raiser
A group of LGBTQ+ activists are raising funds in support of their local community. gofundme.com/f/funds-for-lgbtq-victims-of-beirut039s-explosion
Lebanese Food Bank — national campaign against hunger https://donate.lebanesefoodbank.org/
Lebanese Red Cross https://www.supportlrc.app/donate/donate.html
M Social Catering and ShareQ https://www.facebook.com/shareqngo/
Matbakh El Balad — group of volunteer activists running food distribution. This is not an NGO https://www.facebook.com/matbakhelbalad/
Offre Joie — youth-led, volunteer-led initiative to clean and rebuild homes and provide temporary housing https://www.givingloop.org/offrejoie
Radio Alhara is donating all the proceeds of its limited Fil Mishmish t-shirts to the Lebanese Red Cross https://everpress.com/filmishmish
SEAL Emergency Fund 2020 — diaspora-led fundraising for local organisations to deliver relief. In partnership with LIFE, LebNet, Impact Lebanon and Lebanon Foundation. https://seal-usa.org/BeirutEmergencyFund
The Urgent Action Fund has launched the Beirut Crisis Fund to support the women and trans activists working on the front lines in Lebanon. https://urgentactionfund.networkforgood.com/projects/106762-beirut-crisis-fund
Visual artist Vera Chotzoglou is selling silkscreen prints of her work to raise money for her friends in Beirut. https://www.facebook.com/julien.napolitano
For initiatives serving vulnerable and marginalised communities: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ULusfSBTku0YXgVeRxORZTx_d0WnREcE/view?usp=drivesdk
For more initiatives: https://www.just-help.org/a/Lebanon-Relief-Fund