World leaders on Sunday pledged more than 250 million euros to rebuild Beirut after last week’s horrific port blast in the Lebanese capital.
Fifteen government leaders, including Donald Trump took part in a conference call hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN.
The donor nations also urged Lebanon to ‘fully commit themselves to timely measures and reforms’ in order to unlock longer-term support for the country’s economic and financial recovery.
And they said assistance for ‘an impartial, credible and independent inquiry’ into Tuesday’s explosion ‘is immediately needed and available, upon request of Lebanon.’
Macron was the first world leader to visit the former French colony after Tuesday’s devastating explosion of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate which killed more than 150 people, wounded some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless
A joint statement issued after the meeting in which representatives of nearly 30 countries as well as the EU and Arab League participated, did not mention a global amount.
A picture shows the scene of the explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020
But Macron’s office said the total figure of ’emergency aid pledged or that can be mobilised quickly’ amounts to 252.7 million euros ($298 millon), including 30 million euros from France.
Macron was the first world leader to visit the former French colony after Tuesday’s devastating explosion of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate which killed more than 150 people, wounded some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told ZDF broadcaster that ‘more than 200 million euros of emergency aid have been collected,’ including 20 million euros from Germany.
The joint statement from the world leaders and their representatives underscored concerns about Lebanese government corruption.
‘The participants agreed that their assistance should be timely, sufficient and consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people, well-coordinated under the leadership of the United Nations, and directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency,’ it said.
USAID acting administrator John Barsa also said in a conference call Sunday that American help, some $15 million announced so far, ‘is absolutely not going to the government.’
Fifteen government leaders, including Donald Trump took part in a conference call hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN on Sunday
French President Emmanuel Macron reacts during a donor teleconference with other world leaders concerning the situation in Lebanon following the Beirut blast, in Fort de Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, France, August 9
The UN said some $117 million will be needed for an emergency response over the next three months, for health services, emergency shelter, food distribution and programmes to prevent further spread of COVID-19, among other interventions.
Boris Johnson tells Lebanese president the UK will ‘stand by the country in its hour of need’
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun the UK will ‘stand by the country in its hour of need’ after the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port, Downing Street said.
A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister spoke to President Aoun of Lebanon this morning to convey the UK’s deepest sympathies to the Lebanese people following Tuesday’s devastating explosion. He also passed on the sincere condolences of Her Majesty the Queen.
‘The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s long-standing friendship with Lebanon and commitment to stand by the country in its hour of need.
‘The two leaders discussed the urgent humanitarian, medical and reconstruction needs following the blast at Beirut Port and President Aoun thanked the UK for the support provided to date, including the release of £5million in emergency funding and deployment of HMS Enterprise.
‘With Lebanon facing threats from a financial crisis, coronavirus and the effects of this tragic blast, they agreed to work with international partners to ensure the country’s long-term recovery and rehabilitation.’
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who was also on Sunday’s group call, thanked Macron for the initiative.
‘Much is needed to rebuild what has been destroyed and to restore Beirut’s lustre,’ the Lebanese presidency quoted him on Twitter as saying.
‘The needs are many and we need to address them quickly, especially before the arrival of winter, which will accentuate the suffering of homeless citizens.’
At least 21 people are still missing from the huge blast, and the Lebanese army said Sunday hopes of finding survivors are dwindling.
Lebanese people enraged by official negligence blamed for the explosion have taken to the streets in anti-government protests that have resulted in clashes with the army.
Macron said it was now up to the authorities of Lebanon ‘to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut.’
‘We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails,’ he added. ‘It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake.’
Trump also called for calm, according to the White House, which said he agreed with other leaders on the group call to ‘work closely together in international response efforts.’
‘President Trump also urged the government of Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation, in which the United States stands ready to assist,’ it said.
‘The President called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate calls of peaceful protestors for transparency, reform, and accountability.’
Apart from heads of state and government ministers, Sunday’s conference was attended by UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock, representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the IMF, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Israel, with whom Lebanon has no diplomatic relations, did not participate, though Macron said it had expressed a wish to contribute, nor did Iran which wields huge influence in Lebanon through the Shiite group Hezbollah.
Warehouses full of goods including cars in the immediate area surround the blast were completely destroyed by the impact of the explosion the size of a small nuclear bomb
Damaged cars are seen at the site of Tuesday’s blast, at Beirut’s port area, Lebanon, August 7
Visiting explosion-ravaged Beirut this week, France’s leader (pictured hugging a resident) comforted distraught crowds, promised to rebuild the city and claimed that the blast pierced France’s own heart
Key Arab states in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and the UAE were represented, as were Britain, China, Jordan and Egypt.
Macron said Turkey, with which France’s diplomatic ties have been icy over the Libyan conflict, and Russia had indicated their support for the initiative, though they did not take part in the conference.
According to the UN, at least 15 medical facilities, including three major hospitals, sustained structural damage in the blast, and extensive damage to more than 120 schools may interrupt learning for some 55,000 children.
Thousands of people are in need of food and the blast interrupted basic water and sanitation to many neighbourhoods.
Pope Francis called Sunday appealed for ‘generous help’ from the international community.
Anti-government protesters hurl stones at Lebanese riot police during a protest against the Lebanese politicians who have ruled the country for decades, outside of the Lebanese Parliament in downtown Beirut on Friday evening
People were out hurling stones at riot police outside Lebanese parliament ahead of a major protest planned in downtown Martyrs’ Square on Saturday
France has been sending tonnes of medical and food aid, dozens of search and rescue personnel and forensic experts to aid the investigation, as well as reconstruction materials.
On top of cash aid pledged so far, Egypt and Qatar have promised field hospitals, Brazil said it would send 4,000 tonnes of rice, and Spain 10 tonnes of wheat.
‘In these horrendous times, Lebanon is not alone,’ concluded the conference statement.
From the Ottoman Empire to now: What went wrong in Lebanon?
1516-1918 – Lebanon was part of the vast Ottoman Empire that covered ancient Persia, the Mediterranean and the Balkans.
1920 – Post-World War One, The League of Nations grants the mandate for Lebanon and Syria to France as the empire is partitioned off.
The mandate system was supposed to differ from colonialism, with the governing country intended to act as a trustee until the inhabitants were considered eligible for self-government. At that point, the mandate would terminate and an independent state would be born.
1943 – France agrees to transfer power to the Lebanese government on January 1 following protests for self-determination.
1948 – Thousands of Palestinian refugees arrive in Lebanon following the Arab-Israeli war and the establishment of Israel to the south of Lebanon.
1958 – Tensions between Maronite Christians and Muslims start a civil war, and President Camille Chamoune asks the US to send in troops to preserve Lebanon’s independence.
1967 – Palestinians uses Lebanon as a base for attacks against Israel, as another wave of Palestinians arrive following the outbreak of the Six-Day War.
1968 – Beirut airport is attacked by Israel in retaliation for alleged Lebanese support of Palestinian terrorists, with strikes continuing for six years.
1975 – Political Christian extremists ambush a bus in Beirut and kill 27 of its passengers. These clashes start the civil war.
1976 – After fighting spreads throughout the country, President Suleiman Franjieh calls in Syrian troops. The Syrians side with the Maronites Christians and attempt to control the Palestinians.
Later that year, an Arab summit in Riyadh sets up the Syrian-led Arab Deterrent Force to maintain peace between the Muslim and Christian forces.
1978 – The Palestine Liberation Organisation attacks an Israeli bus, killing 34, causing Israel to invade and occupy southern Lebanon. The UN Security Council calls on Israel to withdraw but they hand power to the Christian militia.
1981 – The US negotiates a ceasefire between Israel and the PLO but it only applies to Lebanon. The PLO continues to attack Israel from Jordan and the West Bank.
1982 – Israel launches air raids on Beirut. The PLO launches counter-attacks from southern Lebanon, prompting the UN Security Council to issue a resolution calling on all sides to adopt a ceasefire. The following day, Israel invades Lebanon.
1983 – Israel agrees to withdraw from Lebanon on condition that Syria does the same but Damascus refuses. The Israelis eventually withdraw to a buffer zone.
1984 – US forces leave Lebanon and factional conflict worsens over the next five years.
1987 – Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Rashid Karami, is assassinated and Salim al-Huss becomes acting PM.
1988 – Outgoing President Amine Gemayel appoints an interim military government under Maronite Commander-in-Chief Michel Aoun in East Beirut when presidential elections fail to produce a successor.
It leaves the country with two rival governments, the other being Prime Minister Selim el-Hoss’ Syria-backed administration in West Beirut.
1989 – Aoun launches a War of Liberation against Syrian occupation and rival militia. The Taif Agreement is negotiated, marking the first steps in the ending of the civil war.
1990 – Syrian forces defeat Aoun, forcing him to take refuge in the French embassy in Beirut.
1991 – The National Assembly orders the dissolution of all militias, except for the powerful Shia group Hezbollah. The South Lebanon Army (SLA) refuses to disband. An amnesty is given for certain crimes.
1993 – In an attempt to combat Hizbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).
2000 – Israel releases 13 Lebanese prisoners held without trial for more than 10 years and withdraws its troops from southern Lebanon after a 17 year occupation. In October, Hariri returns as prime minister.
2004 – UN Security Council adopts a resolution calling for foreign troops to leave Lebanon. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigns after parliament votes to extend Lahoud’s term as president by three years.
2005 – Rafik Hariri is killed by a car bomb in Beirut. The attack sparks anti-Syrian rallies. Calls for Syria to withdraw its troops intensify until its forces leave in April. Assassinations of anti-Syrian figures become a feature of political life.
An anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad Hariri, son of the murdered PM, wins control of parliament at elections. Hariri ally Fouad Siniora becomes prime minister.
2006 – Israel attacks after Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers. Civilian casualties are high and the damage to civilian infrastructure wide-ranging in 34-day war. UN peacekeeping force deploys along the southern border.
2007 – Siege of the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared following clashes between Islamist militants and the military. More than 300 people die and 40,000 residents flee before the army gains control of the camp.
2008 – Lebanon establishes diplomatic relations with Syria for first time since both countries gained independence in 1940s.
2009 June – The pro-Western March 14 alliance wins parliamentary elections and Saad Hariri forms unity government.
2011 January – Government collapses after Hezbollah and allied ministers resign.
2012 – The Syrian conflict that began in March 2011 spills over into Lebanon in deadly clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in Tripoli and Beirut.
UN praises Lebanese families for having taken in more than a third of the 160,000 Syrian refugees who have streamed into the country.
2013 – European Union lists the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. This makes it illegal for Hezbollah sympathisers in Europe to send the group money, and enables the freezing of the group’s assets there.
2020 January – Mass protests against economic stagnation and corruption bring down the government of Saad Hariri, who is succeeded by the academic Hassan Diab.
2020 June – Protests resume after massive falls in the value of the currency and the impact of the Cvoid-19 lockdown drive half the population into poverty.