World leaders on Sunday pledged “timely and sufficient” emergency aid to disaster-stricken Lebanon, which they vowed to deliver “directly” to a population reeling from the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut.
Fifteen heads of government, including US President Donald Trump, took part in a virtual conference hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN, pledging their solidarity with the Lebanese people and pledging to mobilize “significant resources” within days and weeks to come.
A joint statement issued after the emergency meeting in which nearly 30 countries as well as the EU and the Arab League participated did not mention a global amount, but individual countries announced pledges amounting to tens of millions of dollars.
“The participants agreed that their assistance should be provided on time, sufficient and in accordance with the needs of the Lebanese people, well coordinated under the leadership of the United Nations and provided directly to the Lebanese people, with the utmost efficiency and transparency,” he said. he declared. .
USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa also said on Sunday that US aid, some $ 15 million announced so far, “is absolutely not going to the government” of Lebanon.
Donor countries urged Lebanese authorities to “fully commit to taking timely measures and reforms”, both politically and economically, in order to unlock longer-term support for the country’s economic and financial recovery. .
And they said that assistance for “an impartial, credible and independent investigation” into Tuesday’s explosion “is immediately needed and available, at the request of Lebanon.”
Lebanon’s future “ at stake ”
The UN has said some $ 117 million will be needed for an emergency response over the next three months, for health services, emergency shelter, food distribution and programs to prevent the spread. COVID-19, among other interventions.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who participated in the group call on Sunday, thanked Macron for this initiative.
“It takes a lot to rebuild what has been destroyed and to restore the luster of Beirut,” said the Lebanese presidency quoted on Twitter.
“The needs are many and we must respond quickly, especially before the onset of winter, which will increase the suffering of homeless citizens.”
Macron was the first world leader to visit the former French colony after Tuesday’s devastating explosion that killed more than 150 people, injured around 6,000 and left around 300,000 homeless.
While it is not known what sparked the fire that unleashed a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate, protesters say the disaster could not have happened without the corruption and incompetence that came with it. to define the ruling class of Lebanon.
At least 21 people are still missing, and the Lebanese military said on Sunday hopes of finding survivors were dwindling.
Lebanese enraged by the official negligence blamed on the explosion took to the streets in anti-government protests that resulted in clashes with the military.
Macron said it was now up to the Lebanese authorities “to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, rightfully, in the streets of Beirut”.
“We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails,” he added. “The future of Lebanon is at stake.”
Call for calm
Trump also called for calm, according to the White House, which said he agreed with other leaders to “work closely together in international response efforts.”
“President Trump has also urged the Lebanese government to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,” he said.
“The president called for calm in Lebanon and recognized the legitimate calls of peaceful protesters for transparency, reform and accountability.”
Besides heads of state and government ministers, Sunday’s conference brought together UN Aid Coordinator Mark Lowcock, representatives of the World Bank, Red Cross, IMF, Bank European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Israel, with which Lebanon has no diplomatic relations, did not participate, although Macron said he had expressed a wish to contribute, neither did Iran, which wields enormous influence in Lebanon to through the Shiite Hezbollah group.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates were represented, as were Great Britain, China, Jordan and Egypt.
Macron said that Russia and Turkey, with which France’s diplomatic relations have been frosty because of the Libyan conflict, have indicated their support for the initiative, although they did not attend the conference.
According to the UN, at least 15 medical facilities, including three large hospitals, suffered structural damage in the explosion, and extensive damage was caused to more than 120 schools.
Thousands of people are in need of food and the explosion has cut off water supplies and basic sanitation in many neighborhoods.
Pope Francis called on Sunday called for “generous help” from the international community.
France sent tons of medical and food aid, dozens of search and rescue personnel and forensic experts to help with the investigation, as well as reconstruction equipment.
In addition to the cash aid pledged by the countries, Egypt and Qatar have pledged field hospitals, Brazil announced it would send 4,000 tonnes of rice and Spain 10 tonnes of wheat.
“In these horrible times, Lebanon is not alone,” the conference statement concluded.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)