Nearly 70 refugees still unaccounted for, 13 dead after Beirut port explosion

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Nearly 70 refugees are still not reachable or are confirmed as missing 10 days after the deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut, according to a report published Thursday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The explosion in the Lebanese capital left at least 178 dead, more than 6,000 injured and destroyed swaths of the city. Thirty remain missing. The UN OCHA found that 69 refugees are missing or have not been reached, and 13 deaths were confirmed among the refugee community.

The Syrian refugee community in Lebanon was also heavily impacted by the blasts. Lebanon hosts around 1 million refugees, and the UN refugee agency reported that more than 37,000 refugee families lived within 5 kilometers of the Port of Beirut.

The ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon has affected both locals and refugees, but as one of the most vulnerable groups in the country, refugees have been hit especially hard.

“The explosions affected many neighborhoods across Greater Beirut, including several with poor, migrant workers and refugee communities. Many of these communities have limited resources to reconstruct damaged shelters or purchase food and non-food items,” the OCHA report read.

Since October 2019, the economy has been steadily declining, and the value of the local currency has plummeted. Refugees, limited to work in certain sectors, saw their available work options dry up with the economy.

In Lebanon, it is now estimated that around half the population lives below the poverty line.

Lebanese authorities have estimated that some 300,000 were left homeless in the blast, but UN figures estimates are about half that, saying 47,000 apartments were damaged and more than 170,000 residents were affected.

Within a 15-kilometer radius of the blast, only half of the 55 medical facilities are fully operational, and around 40 percent have suffered moderate to severe structural damage, the OCHA report read.

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