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A Hospital in Ruins, A People Clinging to Hope

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The blast that tore through Beirut in August of 2020 devastated a nation. Three of Lebanon’s most important health care centers — including Geitaoui Hospital — are located within minutes of ground zero, sustaining extensive damages. Thousands of patients and staff were affected. CNEWA’s Beirut-based team, known locally as the Pontifical Mission, rushed in aid, raising more than $1.5 million to help reconstruct and rebuild Geitaoui alone. But the work has just begun. This vital lifeline for so many Lebanese — operated by the Holy Family Sisters — needs your help and the people of Lebanon are looking to us for hope.

Founded in 1927 by Father Geitaoui

250+ Patient/Bed Capacity

Only Burn Center in Lebanon

Multidisciplinary Care Hospital

View CNEWA's Lebanon Report

On 4 August 2020, the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse at the port of Beirut — one of the worst non-nuclear detonations ever recorded — triggered a complex, humanitarian emergency in the capital. Within minutes, the blast in this densely populated hub killed 200 people, injured 6,000 and left 300,000 homeless. In the days and weeks that followed, lives and livelihoods across this capital of 2 million people hung in the balance.

Up to two miles from the blast, an area comprising an estimated 750,000 residents, commercial and residential buildings were damaged and windows shattered, contributing to between $3.8 billion and $4.6 billion worth of losses in physical infrastructure, according to the World Bank. Three Christian hospitals, including the 600-bed St. George Hospital, and 12 primary health care facilities in the area were damaged. Staff were forced to move patients and some hospitals closed.

Catholic Near East Welfare Association, CNEWA, is an agency of the Holy See founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI to support the pastoral and humanitarian activities of the Catholic Eastern churches. Throughout the Middle East, CNEWA operates as the Pontifical Mission, a taskforce founded by Pope Pius XII in 1949 to address the displacement of peoples and other challenges triggered by the Arab-Israeli conflict. The pope placed this special mission under the administration of CNEWA, and succeeding popes have broadened its mandate to include the care of peoples throughout the region.

Contributions to this campaign will be used to help support these needs at Geitaoui Hospital in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. However, in the event this campaign exceeds its goal, or if CNEWA deems these projects as no longer necessary or impossible, CNEWA may use these contributions for other projects at Geitaoui Hospital. Our goal remains to ensure gifts provide compassionate care, healing and hope to those most in need.

Lebanese Hospital Is ‘Looking to Survive’

Msgr. Peter Vaccari (second from left) speaks with the leadership of Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui as they walk out of the facility: Sister Antoinette Saadeh, superior of the Holy Family Sisters (left), Sister Hadia and Dr. Pierre Yared. Msgr. Vaccari visited the hospital during his pastoral visit to Beirut this past August. (photo: Maroun Bassil)

The health care sector in Lebanon is being crushed under the weight of multiple crises that are only getting worse, say the co-administrators of one of Lebanon’s most important hospitals.

“We are struggling,” said Sister Hadia Abi Chebli, who directs the Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui with Dr. Pierre Yared.

Geitaoui Hospital After The Blast