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Beirut: The GAFA are mobilizing

The catastrophic explosion that devastated Beirut at the beginning of the month continues to arouse strong emotions and reactions throughout the world. From small-scale initiatives to the mobilization of large groups, a whole system has been set in motion to help this wounded Oriental pearl that is the Lebanese capital...

Humanitarian aid is currently essential in Beirut, where NGOs are present with volunteers in the field, to help clear, rebuild, treat, feed, shelter, rescue, or simply listen and console the victims. At present, no less than 300,000 people are still on the streets. The slightest initiative helps to move the debate forward, and many have been set up for “small” actors, such as individuals. For example, in the Emirates, one can support Beirut by going to the hairdresser. The most hype hair salons in Dubai have jointly decided to donate all the funds collected during two days of a special operation to the Red Cross .

 

On a larger scale

However, while everything is of course good to take, and the knowledge that such initiatives are being put in place certainly warms the hearts of the Lebanese, the situation requires that international aid “pull out the heavy artillery”. To the great evils, the great remedies, as they say. And precisely, the GAFA, perhaps the most powerful actors in the private sphere, have answered the call.

The GAFA are the digital giants that flood the daily lives of most earthlings: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. If the last one is long overdue, the first three have already announced donation campaigns organized to help the disaster victims.

 

 

 

Care, shelter, and food

Google announced a $2.2 million donation, raised through an employee matching campaign (for each employee donation, the employer commits to match), which will be sent to local NGOs in Beirut that are providing medical care, shelter, and food to disaster victims. The company is also committed to calling for donations on its flagship applications such as its search engine (Google), its geolocation service (Maps), and its video sharing platform (YouTube). Finally, it commits to finance a global network of support for entrepreneurs and put it at the service of Lebanese companies.

 

the port of Beirut in the aftermath of the double explosion of August 4, 2020 (Credits: AFP)

 

Employees involved in donations

Facebook, for its part, is a regular in responding to crisis situations. It has set up the Safety Check, which platform users can activate to get news and reassure their loved ones, as well as a crisis page, to collect information in real time and offer or request help (help that can range from a roof for the night to a blood transfusion). In addition, Ramez Shehadi, CEO of Facebook Middle East and North Africa, said: “To support the vital work that organizations and individuals are doing on the ground in Beirut, we are donating more than $2.1 million to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs to support relief and recovery efforts, of which $1 million has been matched by our community through a Facebook fundraiser. In addition, we are working with local hospitals and partners to launch local access to our blood donation tool – which allows blood donors to find nearby blood donation centers in need of assistance – and support affected local newsrooms. We will continue to work with various organizations that are making a real difference at this critical time”.

 

the port of Beirut in the aftermath of the double explosion of August 4, 2020 (Credits: AFP)

The digital sector is committed

Apple, finally, is accustomed to donating cash to NGOs in need of funding. Shortly after the disaster, Tim Cook, President and CEO of Apple, reaffirmed this commitment in a tweet:

 

 

“Apple makes donations to humanitarian organizations that help meet immediate needs and provide long-term support in Beirut. We are in mourning with the Lebanese people, our employees and all those affected by the tragedy”.

Hoping for a quick return to normal life for the Lebanese people.