Last Update 22:52
Thursday, 22 October 2020

UNESCO in massive fundraising drive for blast-hit Beirut

According to UNESCO, around 160 schools and at least 85,000 students affected by August 4 explosions at Beirut port

AFP , Thursday 27 Aug 2020
Lebanon
UNESCO'S Director-General Audrey Azoulay speaks to journalists as she visits a school that was damaged by the Aug. 4 explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. AP
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The UN's culture and education organisation will organise two conferences to seek "considerable" funding for blast-hit Beirut, its director said Thursday in the Lebanese capital.

Audrey Azoulay told AFP during the visit of a school damaged by the colossal August 4 explosion at Beirut port that two events were in the works.

"The first one will be a meeting of the Global Education Coalition dedicated to Lebanon," she said, referring to a body set up since the Covid-19 pandemic to support remote learning.

"The country absolutely needs to be better prepared on this issue of remote learning," she said.

According to UNESCO, around 160 schools were destroyed or damaged by the blast, which left more than 180 people dead and devastated entire neighbourhoods of Beirut.

Azoulay said at least 85,000 children were directly affected by the destruction the explosion wreaked in Beirut.

With the start of the new school year theoretically only days away, the explosion compounded a serious crisis the educational system already faced due to Covid-19 and an unprecedented economic crisis.

Azoulay said a preliminary assessment showed $22 million would be needed just to rebuild damaged schools.

She said a second conference would be organised, probably in late September, to raise funds for Beirut's heritage and the cultural sector.

Azoulay said the aim was to "secure international funding for culture, of the kind that usually comes after reconstruction efforts".

"It needs to come now," she said, adding that while estimates were under way, the funding needed would be "considerable".

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