London, Ont. non-profit holding ‘Walk for Lebanon’ for Beirut explosion victims

epa08614906 A Lebanese flag hangs on a damaged building near the devastated harbor area after the explosion that hit Beirut port, in Beirut, Lebanon, 20 August 2020. According to Lebanese Health Ministry at least 179 people were killed, and more than 6000 injured 49 missing in the Beirut blast that devastated the port area on 04 August and believed to have been caused by an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse. EPA/WAEL HAMZEH. Wael Hamzeh / EPA

As Lebanon marks one year since the horrific explosion at the port of Beirut, a community group in London, Ont., is getting ready to hold an event that aims to raise funds for the victims still dealing with the aftermath.

The blast, which accounts for one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, killed at least 214 people and injured thousands more, according to official records.

In its wake, the country has dealt with an unprecedented economic and financial meltdown, along with a political stalemate that has kept the country without a functioning government for a full year.

Read more: Victims seek justice as Lebanon marks 1 year since fatal Beirut explosion

On Sunday, the Lebanese Canadian Cultural Club of London (LCCCL) will hold a “Walk for Lebanon” in Gibbons Park, giving the local community a chance to help out.

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“There’s a huge shortage of food, medicine, fuel. There is more than just the explosion that happened,” said LCCCL president Dr. Majed Fiaani.

“Our focus, really, is mainly on looking at how can we help people on the ground … we want them to know that we are there for them, we remember them and we’re not forgetting what’s going on.”

A poster shared online for Sunday’s “Walk for Lebanon” at Gibbons Park. Lebanese Canadian Cultural Club of London

All donations gathered by the walk will be sent directly to World Vision Canada and Fiaani says the LCCCL has been working to make sure the money won’t go to waste.

“We are in direct contact with World Vision and we like to know where the money is going and how they’re helping, and they’re very open about it and really supportive,” Fiaani said.

“We want to make sure for the people who donate the money that this money is not going to be used for personal reasons or be abused or taken by government people.”

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Read more: Multiple Lebanese officials ‘criminally negligent’ for Beirut blast: Human Rights Watch

Fiaani added the LCCCL received special permission from city officials to hold Sunday’s walk amid current COVID-19 protocols. A number of health measures will be in place, including gathering information from attendees, such as whether they are experiencing any symptoms linked to the virus.

Guest speakers include London Mayor Ed Holder and Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih, a Lebanese philanthropist who grew up in Beirut.

Registration for the walk is free and the LCCCL will be selling merchandise to help raise funds.

Thousands of dollars have already been raised online through the club’s website and donations can also made directly to World Vision Canada.

The walk kicks off in Gibbons Park at 9:30 a.m.

— With files from The Associated Press

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