Wed, 30 Sep 2020

GENEVA - Many of the young people affected by the explosion that has decimated Lebanon's capital Beirut are working to put the pieces back together again. The UN children's fund says they are among an estimated 100,000 children rendered homeless by the blast who need international support to rebuild their shattered lives.

The United Nations issued a flash appeal Friday for $565 million to address Lebanon's immediate lifesaving needs, with an eye toward achieving full social and economic recovery. The U.N. Children's Fund says it needs $46.7 million over the next three months to protect and help children and their families overcome the physical and mental impacts of this disaster.

UNICEF says it has three main objectives. These are to keep children safe, rehabilitate essential services and provide young people with the skills they need to help rebuild their country. It acknowledges the job ahead is huge.

UNICEF: At Least 3 Children Dead, 1,000 Injured, in Beirut Explosions Many of the surviving children were displaced in the blast, which destroyed over 300,000 homes

The agency's appeal covers the rehabilitation of 16 damaged primary health care centers serving 160,000 people. It says restoring the 120 schools that have been damaged or destroyed in the blast so children can keep on learning is a priority.

Speaking on a video link from Beirut, UNICEF Lebanon Deputy Representative Violet Speek-Warnery says children are deeply traumatized by the level of destruction and loss they have experienced.

"Mental health and psychosocial support for children and their parents is a huge priority for us moving forward-including child friendly spaces, for example where there are referral mechanisms ongoing," said Speek-Warnery. "GBV, gender-based violence is a major aspect for us as well and making sure that these services are continued and also with hygiene supplies and hygiene supports."

Speek-Warnery says one of the heartening aspects to emerge from this tragedy is the number of young people volunteering to clean up the mess and rebuild their city.

"We have been overrun by young people who want to support, and they have been supporting amazingly," said Speek-Warnery. "We have been supporting that with tools, resources and equipment for them to be able to be on the streets cleaning debris, cooking, cleaning. And we will continue with that. At the same time, we will extend the programs that we have across the country on skills building and cash for work."

The UNICEF official says money from the appeal will provide thousands of adolescents with training in skills such as carpentry, construction, and plumbing that are crucially needed in the arduous task of rebuilding Lebanon.

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