The Islamic Centre of Yellowknife is encouraging people in the city to contribute to an emergency relief fund that will help those affected by last week’s explosion in Beirut.
The centre is calling for donations to Islamic Relief Canada’s Lebanon emergency fund. The money will help with the immediate emergency response in the Middle Eastern country’s capital, where an explosion on August 4, killed at least 200 people, injured 5,000 others, and left many more without homes.
Islamic Relief said it will be distributing water, food, hygiene kits, and offering health assistance to those affected in Beruit. Funds will also help with wider long-term rehabilitation.
Between August 4 and August 24 all donations to the fund will be matched by the Canadian government, up to $5 million dollars.
“This is a big humanitarian crisis there. You know people [in Lebanon], they need every sort of help because if you see the radius of the impact, that’s huge,” said Nazim Awan, chair of Yellowknife’s Islamic centre.
“Whenever a disaster of this nature happens, I believe that everybody who is a member of humanity, a member of the larger human family, is affected.”
Awan noted that Lebanon’s economy was already struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The explosion caused extensive damage across Beruit, including to the port where many of the country’s essential supplies are imported.
He said congregation numbers are limited at the Islamic Centre of Yellowknife because of the pandemic, but a special prayer will be held on Friday for those in Lebanon. People in the city have also been praying on their own.
‘Our brothers and sisters in humanity’
As NNSL first reported, Yellowknifer Rami Kassem is a member of the Islamic centre and is from Lebanon. He was last in Beruit in 2018, but still has a lot of family members there.
“Luckily none of them were affected, not even close, because they were far away,” he said.
Kassem said his nephew does work in the area of the explosion but he was sick that day. Two of his nephew’s co-workers were killed in the blast.
“It’s scary for them, they don’t know the future, they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Kassem said many people in Yellowknife have been asking him how they can support people in Lebanon and one person from Hay River donated $200.
“Any help from anywhere, that would be supportive and it means a lot to those people,” he said. “They are our brothers and sisters in humanity.”