Johanniter Expands Relief for Lebanon

Berlin / Beirut, 20 August 2020

Expert team supports emergency relief in Beirut and prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19

Following the explosion in the port of Beirut and the resulting deterioration in hygiene conditions, the corona infection rate is currently rising significantly in Beirut and the whole of Lebanon. While at the beginning of the week there were around 430 new infections daily, the number had already risen to 589 registered cases by Wednesday. The authorities are now reacting to the sharp rise with a 14-day national lockdown. All public facilities will remain closed, and there will be a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A team of Johanniter experts has been in Lebanon since the beginning of the week to investigate further relief measures for those affected by the explosion, and to initiate them together with the partner organisation Naba'a. This does not only concern immediate measures, such as the distribution of food parcels and cash for particularly affected families, but also measures to contain the corona virus.

The destruction in the port areas is still omnipresent two weeks after the explosion.
Linda Zimmermann, Johanniter project coordinator for the Middle East

Expert trains in prevention measures against COVID-19

Dr. Gerald Ripberger, physician and Johanniter volunteer, will conduct workshops on Saturday, 22 August, on how to handle COVID-19 in the palestinian camps in southern Lebanon. Johanniter currently provides vocational training for 540 young refugees here.

Especially in camps there is a high risk of getting infected with the corona virus.
Dr. Ripberger

"The cramped living conditions, communal sanitary facilities, and the lack of testing and tracking facilities for infected persons and contact persons favour the spread of the virus. Access to education is also usually significantly more difficult. The resulting lack of knowledge about the necessity and application of preventive measures makes the situation worse," fears Dr. Ripberger.

Aid measures excluded from lockdown Johanniter's activities will not be restricted despite the beginning lockdown in Lebanon.

People are still dependent on support. Therefore, together with our partners, we will do everything we can to support the people. We will be able to move around freely during the day, as all relief activities are exempt from the lockdown.
Manfred Emmerling, logistics coordinator of Johanniter International Assistance

The expert team consists of

  • Linda Zimmermann, project coordinator for the Middle East at Johanniter International Assistance, is examining further relief measures for those affected by the Explosion
  • Manfred Emmerling, Logistics Coordinator at Johanniter International Assistance and Johanniter volunteer for many years, supports and advises our local partners on logistics issues
  • Dr. Gerald Ripberger, a long-time volunteer emergency aid worker with Johanniter, works full-time at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin as a medical emergency response advisor at the Centre for International Health Protection. He trains partner organisations as well as residents of palestinian camps in preventive measures against COVID-19, and is currently assessing the need for further medical relief measures in Beirut.


On August 4, a warehouse in the port district of Beirut exploded. The detonation killed over 170 people and injured more than 6,500. Large parts of the city were destroyed or damaged. Lebanon has been suffering from a severe economic crisis for some time. The Corona pandemic has exacerbated the situation in the country. Unemployment has risen sharply, as have the prices of food, which has particularly affected the poorer population and around two million refugees in the country.

Ein Junge spielt mit einem anderen Jungen der im Rollstuhl sitzt

International Assistance in Lebanon

In Lebanon, we support refugees from Palestine and Syria. We are committed to improve career prospects among young people with and without disabilities.

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We are adapting our current project activities to respond to the worldwide corona pandemic.