Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Neighbours, western countries pledge support for Lebanon following Beirut blast

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2020 | 12:00 AM
A crooked paint hangs on the wall of the Sursock Palace, heavily damaged after the explosion in the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 7. The 150-year-old palace withstood two world wars, the fall of the Ottoman empire, the French mandate and Lebanese independence. After the country's 1975-1990 civil war, it took 20 years of careful restoration for the family to bring the palace back to its former glory (AP photo).

Neighbouring countries and western leaders have continued to pledge aid and support for Lebanon, following an explosion in the capital, Beirut that killed more than 150 people and injured thousands more.

Several gave commitments during a virtual pledging conference for the crisis.

Quatar's emir  called the blast a “dire circumstance” that Lebanon cannot get over on its own.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made the statement today during a pledging conference for the crisis.

He posted a clip of his comments on Twitter.

Sheikh Tamim said that “strengthening national unity” was needed in Lebanon after the blast. He also said unifying and strengthening the government and society’s response, as well as providing international aid, also was important.

Meanwhile, Cyprus’ president said he’s ready to place the island nation’s sea and airports at the disposal of the international community for conveying humanitarian aid or any other assistance to neighbouring Lebanon.

Cyprus is about 130 miles (207 kilometres) from Beirut.

President Nicos Anastasiades said Cyprus will send 40 more tonnes of medical supplies, generators, clothing and non perishable food to Lebanon on top of the five tonnes that have already been dispatched.

Anastasiades said in a statement during today's Lebanon support teleconference that Cypriot rescue crews and sniffer dogs are already in Beirut and more could be dispatched if Lebanese President Michel Aoun requests it.

Additionally, the Cypriot president pledged 5 million euros in financial aid.

US, European countries maintain support

Spain’s government says it will be sending emergency aid to Lebanon, including medicine and medical supplies.

The shipment will includes 10 tonnes of wheat donated by the Olof Palme International Foundation. Several containers of wheat were destroyed in the explosion.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a statement that Lebanon “will need a lot of support to cope with the damage.”

Spain has 610 soldiers on a UNIFIL mission in Lebanon, second only to Italy.

In the meantime, Britain has pledged 20 million pounds (US$26 million) to help feed people in Lebanon. 

It says the money will go to the World Food Program to provide food and medicine for the most vulnerable.

Britain had previously pledged 5 million pounds to Lebanon and is sending specialist medics and a Royal Navy survey ship to Beirut. The ship will help assess damage from the blast fuelled by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, which levelled Beirut’s port and devastated much of the city.

Germany and France are also providing support.

Germany is giving an additional 10 million euros in emergency aid, while France is sending a helicopter carrier and a cargo ship loaded with aid and supplies to Beirut, as it organises an international donors’ conference for Lebanon.

A cargo ship loaded with aid will also leave France in the coming days.

In total, France is sending 18 tonnes of medical aid, including medicines, vaccines and hygiene kits and 663 tonnes of food aid, the foreign ministry said.

A top USAID official says $15 million in American assistance will also go to go directly to those who need it most.

Speaking ahead of his departure for Beirut, John Barsa said the assistance would be directed to medical authorities at the American University of Beirut and the American Lebanese University.

The US is also providing money to the World Food Program for emergency meals for about 300,000 people affected by the explosion at the Beirut port in addition to emergency medical kits.

Adapted from AP

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