Lebanon has a history of instability, weak governance, and a strong civil society. The country has been in a state of crisis for decades and currently, the state is experiencing multiple crises at once. Political tensions, an economic crisis, and plummeting of the Lebanese Lira, together with the COVID-19 crisis have amounted to the instability of the state. All these tensions escalated even further when Beirut experienced a huge explosion in the port on 4 August 2020, killing over two hundred people and injuring thousands.

Civil society organizations play a crucial role in the development and survival of Lebanon. In a crisis, the civil society organizations in Lebanon are required to constantly change their nature and adapt to the political, social, and economic situation of the state. The weak state creates a strong civil society but one that is never able to develop further than providing basic needs. When there is an absence of the state, civil society organizations fill the role that the state leaves. In a state like Lebanon, the sectarian divide offers another challenge. The sustained instability opens the door for organizations that affiliate with a certain sectarian identity to be established, therefore dividing the population and creating unfair access to the services of those organizations.

Social media is becoming a great source of information, especially in times of crisis. Billions of people have some sort of access to the Internet and social media, therefore making it highly accessible and used worldwide. Civil society organizations, relief organizations, and non-governmental organizations are active users of social media for informal communication and information sharing, and civil society organizations use social media during times of crisis to create awareness, raise donations and communicate with the audience. When the explosion in Beirut happened, relief organizations turned to social media in an effort to create the awareness that was needed to establish funds and donations. By actively using specific social media strategies, such as using photos and videos, the Lebanese relief organizations generated donations to assist the Lebanese population with basic necessities such as food, water, medical care, and shelter.

The aim of this study is to research how Lebanese relief organizations navigated basic need shortages through Instagram and Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the blast in the Beirut port. This study presents a case study that focuses on the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese Food Bank, Beit El Baraka, and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s use of Instagram and Facebook to deliver basic needs to the affected Lebanese population after the explosion on 4 August 2020. It will delve deeper into the analysis of social media strategy, crisis management, and the importance of social media utilization. The research will also highlight how civil society operates in a state that is going through multiple crises, and how relief aid is organized when faced with the biggest non-nuclear explosion that affected the local civil society personally.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Middle East Studies Center

Degree Name

MA in Middle East Studies

Graduation Date

Winter 2-1-2024

Submission Date


First Advisor

Dr. Sarah El-Richani

Committee Member 1

Ambassador Karim Haggag

Committee Member 2

Dr. Nadine El Sayed


126 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item