The Municipality of Bourj Hammoud launched an accessible new hotline service to help its residents overcome current economic and social challenges.
As a first step, the hotline is providing first-hand assistance with three key issues by: providing information on COVID-19, allowing users to follow up on requests to repair houses damaged by the Beirut blast, and offering support services for individuals with disabilities by connecting users to the relevant aid organizations.
The initiative comes in light of Lebanon’s worst economic and financial crisis to date, which has led to deteriorating living conditions amongst ranks of citizens and residents of the area. The cost-effective hotline is based on a WhatsApp application delivered in Arabic, English and Armenian.
Residents of Bourj Hammoud can access the hotline by sending a WhatsApp message to 71800177.
“This is a humanitarian response project that should have been developed a long time ago, but unfortunately the municipality didn’t have the required resources,” said Mardig Boughossian, head of the Bourj Hammoud municipality, as reported by the National News Agency (NNA).
“The implementation of the hotline is very timely,” he said. “I encourage Bourj Hammoud residents to use this service and to benefit from the health and social support provided.”
The hotline is funded by the European Union’s (EU) Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, and the EU Madad Fund. It is also technically supported by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme’s (UN-Habitat) joint initiative, the Municipal Empowerment and Resilience Project (MERP).
Following the August 4 blast, Bourj Hammoud was one of the most heavily affected areas due to its close proximity to the port.
The Beirut blast damaged over 2,000 buildings in Bourj Hammoud, according to a rapid building-level damage assessment by the Municipality of Bourj Hammoud and UN-Habitat. Most suffered minor damage such as broken glass, while 182 incurred considerable architectural damage that could affect public safety and 4 were declared structurally unsound and required evacuation.
Bourj Hammoud also stands as one of Beirut’s poorer neighborhoods, further exasperated by the current crises, pandemic, and political deadlock, and houses at least 10,000 refugees and thousands of migrant workers.
The hotline is intended to provide “access to information and facilitation in the provision of assistance, particularly for those with disabilities,” according to Head of Sector Economy and Local Development of the European Union Delegation to Lebanon, Jose Luis Vinuesa Santamaria.