Press release

UNESCO Assistant Director-General to renew solidarity in Beirut one year after deadly blast

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini, will visit Beirut from 3 to 5 August to mark the anniversary of the deadly blasts that rocked the Lebanese capital a year ago, and to stand in solidarity with its people. When the twin explosions devasted swathes of the city on 4 August 2020, at least 85,000 students were affected by the explosion and 226 schools, 20 training centres, and 32 university campuses were damaged.  

Ms. Giannini will meet with key national and international education stakeholders and partners to strengthen ongoing efforts to help Beirut’s educational system to recover. She will visit and inaugurate educational establishments which UNESCO helped to re-build, including the buildings of the Lebanese University alongside Dr. Tarek Majzoub, Minister of Education and Higher Education and other education partners. She will also visit severely damaged heritage buildings stabilized by UNESCO thanks to funding from Germany, as well as the Sursock Museum, to be rehabilitated with funding from Italy.

UNESCO was mandated by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon to lead the coordination of all rehabilitation efforts by partners on the ground. As part of its response through the Li Beirut initiative, UNESCO is rehabilitating at least 91 schools, 20 Technical and Vocational Education and Training Centres, and 3 higher education institutions. Work on 85 schools has already been completed, and equipment has been provided to 25 public schools. 

UNESCO has been also working with the teachers and school leaders on the frontlines of the response. The organization is developing teacher training programme for those affected by the blasts to equip them with new skills to improve the provision of quality distance learning. 

On 27 August 2020, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay launched an international initiative Li Beirut (For Beirut in Arabic), to place education, culture and heritage at the heart of the reconstruction efforts, and to mobilize financial resources. Over the past year, support has been extended for the rehabilitation of schools and historic heritage buildings and galleries, as well as for artists and creative professionals (the latter with financial support from Iceland).

The education rehabilitation projects are funded by Education Above All (EAA), the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.