The day after the devastating explosion in Beirut, the worst in Lebanon’s history, the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, “deeply disturbed” for what happened, sent a message of condolence to the Lebanese president Michel Aoun, assuring him of the Order of Malta’s “readiness to scale up its support and assistance to your noble country through the Lebanese Association of Knights of Malta which will continue to work with all possible strength and commitment”.
The explosion in the capital’s port was allegedly caused by the detonation of a great quantity of ammonium nitrate, an industrial chemical mostly used for fertiliser. There are hundreds of victims, many missing and thousands of people wounded, some seriously. All of Beirut’s hospitals and first-aid facilities are under great pressure.
In a telephone conversation with Marwan Sehnaoui, president of the Lebanese Association, Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager expressed the Order’s solidarity in this difficult moment for the Middle Eastern country, already afflicted by a serious economic crisis intensified by the Coronavirus pandemic.
There are no victims among the staff of the Order of Malta’s embassy in Lebanon, but the building has suffered serious material damage. The Order’s Lebanese association and Malteser International are already treating casualties and have mobilized volunteer teams to provide practical support for the vulnerable, especially elderly people and persons with disabilities. “We are pulling together every medical capacity at our disposal in Lebanon. Our mobile medical teams on the Syrian border are providing care for people in the region. These teams will be needed in Beirut within the next days,” said Clemens Mirbach, Country Coordinator for Lebanon at Malteser International.
The Order of Malta has been present in Lebanon for over 40 years. With ten health centres and various mobile medical units, it manages a network of 30 different projects nationwide and has been particularly active during the Covid-19 emergency.