World leaders on Sunday pledged more than 250 million euros for disaster-stricken Lebanon, conference host France said, with emergency aid to be delivered “directly” to a population shocked by the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut.
Fifteen heads of government, including US President Donald Trump, took part in the virtual conference organized by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN, pledging their solidarity with the Lebanese people and pledging to mobilize “significant resources” within the next few days. and weeks to come.
A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting attended by representatives of nearly 30 countries as well as the EU and the Arab League did not mention a global amount.
But Macron’s office said the total figure for “emergency aid promised or can be mobilized quickly” stands at 252.7 million euros ($ 298 million), of which 30 million euros from France.
Macron was the first world leader to visit the former French colony after the devastating explosion on Tuesday of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate that killed more than 150 people, injured around 6,000 and left around 300,000 homeless.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told ZDF that “over 200 million euros in emergency aid has been collected”, including 20 million euros from Germany.
“Maximum efficiency and transparency”
The joint statement by world leaders and their representatives highlighted concerns about corruption by the Lebanese government.
“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 told a conference call Sunday that US aid, some $ 15 million announced so far, “is absolutely not going to the government.”
Donor countries have urged the Lebanese authorities to “fully commit to taking timely measures and reforms” 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.”
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 was also at the group call on Sunday, thanked Macron for the 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.”
Call for calm
At least 21 people are still missing in the massive explosion, and the Lebanese military said on Sunday that hopes of locating 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.”
Trump also called for calm, according to the White House, which said he agreed with other leaders on the group’s call 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.
The main Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, were represented, as were Britain, China, Jordan and Egypt.
Macron said Turkey, with which France’s diplomatic relations were frosty due to the Libyan conflict, and Russia had indicated their support for the initiative, although they did not attend the conference.
At least 15 medical facilities, including three large hospitals, suffered structural damage in the explosion, according to the United Nations, and extensive damage to more than 120 schools could disrupt the learning of some 55,000 children.
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 so far, Egypt and Qatar have pledged field hospitals, Brazil has announced it will 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.)