- Title: Lebanese volunteers overwhelmed with requests for aid amid coronavirus lockdown
- Date: 9th April 2020
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (APRIL 5, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS WEARING FACE MASKS AND GLOVES PACKING FOOD INTO BOXES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FOODBLESSED, MAYA TERRO, SAYING: "There were always people in need but the current situation is a lot tougher, especially for Lebanese families. There may have been families who were doing okay but aren't anymore. I think the middle class that existed has disappeared. And the ones who were hit the most are those who were already struggling and are now struggling even more. So there is depression and sadness, but at the same time there is hope. As we are doing our best to help these people, there is always hope." VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS WEARING FACE MASKS PREPPING UP FOOD AND BOXES VOLUNTEER SEALING FINISHED FOOD ASSISTANCE PACKAGES WITH TAPE VOLUNTEER CARRYING BOX (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) WOMAN WHO DID NOT WANT TO GIVE HER NAME, SAYING: "My situation is really bad. We were struggling even before the corona(virus). The situation in the country was bad even before the protests. Now with the protests and corona(virus), we have become poor." BEIRUT, LEBANON (APRIL 6, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WAITING IN LINE FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE PACKAGE WHILE VOLUNTEERS CHECK THEIR NAMES GREATER BEIRUT, LEBANON (RECENT) (VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS) VARIOUS DRIVING SHOTS OF VOLUNTEER BAHIA SHAER IN STREETS OF GREATER BEIRUT TO DELIVER FOOD ASSISTANCE PACKAGES TO FAMILIES IN NEED BEIRUT, LEBANON (APRIL 1, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE PACKING FOOD PACKAGES AT THE COMMUNIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS PEOPLE WALKING HOLDING A FOOD PACKAGE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE PUTTING FOOD PACKAGE AT THE FLOOR OF ONE OF THE FAMILY BUILDINGS IN BEIRUT / RINGING INTERCOM FOOD PACKAGE ON FLOOR INSIDE THE BUILDING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MEMBER OF THE LEBANESE COMMUNIST PARTY, CARLOS JULIAN, SAYING: "We were surprised by the huge amount of calls we received after putting out an emergency number for people in need of food and medications. Honestly, we weren't prepared for such a high number of demands, so we had to be responsive and adapt our activities in order to be there for our families, friends and whoever needs our help."
- Keywords: Beirut COVID-19 Coronavirus Donations Financial crisis Food Bank Lebanon NGOs
- Reuters ID: LVA001C8RTHED
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON AND UNKNOWN LOCATION
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON AND UNKNOWN LOCATION
- Country: Lebanon
- Duration: 00:02:47
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Lebanese aid organisations say they are overwhelmed with the number of families calling for help with food and medical supplies following the coronavirus outbreak and government-imposed lockdown.
Many groups and individuals are doubling their efforts to help the most vulnerable in their communities, after weeks of the lockdown and a suffocating economic crisis has left the country's poor with little or no means to cope with the extra hardship.
Maya Terro, chief executive of FoodBlessed, co-founded the organisation that delivers food to the needy. From an original 50 to 100 calls per day, Terro said they are now receiving calls in the thousands. In the past weeks, FoodBlessed has doubled weekly distributions to 200 parcels, each with enough lentils, rice, oil, sugar and other staples for 150 meals.
The coronavirus outbreak has also had most Lebanese political parties scrambling to implement initiatives such as distributing food, or sanitising public spaces and raising awareness about the dangers of the virus.
Some six months before the virus outbreak, Lebanon's long-brewing economic problems came to a head as capital inflows slowed and big protests erupted against the ruling elite. The currency has sunk and unemployment and inflation have soared. The heavily-indebted state, which defaulted in March, is poorly placed to help the poor.
The government will offer the poorest 400,000 Lebanese pounds, about $150 at the black market exchange rate. It is also developing a $450 million program with the World Bank to support the poor. This was due to be implemented in September but Economy Minister Raoul Nehme said it needed to be accelerated.
With a population of about 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon had recorded 582 COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths, as of Thursday (April 9).
(Production: Imad Creidi, Alaa Kanaan, Yara Abi Nader)
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