• The Star Staff

Macron urges world leaders to speed aid to Lebanon after explosions


By Liz Alderman


President Emmanuel Macron of France called on world leaders to fast-track financial and humanitarian aid to Lebanon on Sunday after explosions last week decimated parts of Beirut and left more than 150 people dead.


A day after furious demonstrations against the Lebanese government threatened to spill into chaos, more than 30 international leaders and government officials agreed to accelerate support in a video conference organized by Macron and the United Nations.


“The objective today is to act quickly and effectively to coordinate our aid on the ground so that it goes as efficiently as possible to the Lebanese people,” Macron told those gathered for the video call, including President Donald Trump, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt as well as representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, China and the Arab League.


Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s president and a target of protests against the government’s handling of the crisis, also participated.


Macron has repeatedly called for immediate aid to Lebanon. He visited the rubble-ridden capital, Beirut, less than 48 hours after two explosions Tuesday devastated a wide area there, overturning cars, shattering windows and buildings and enveloping much of the city in dust and smoke. About 6,000 people were wounded, and an estimated 300,000 were left homeless.


Shock and disbelief have given way to fury among residents in recent days, prompting demonstrations against what they see as extreme government negligence and corruption that set the stage for the tragedy. Officials in Lebanon say that more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer and bombs, exploded after being stored in a port warehouse since 2014, when it was confiscated from a cargo ship.


On Saturday, the protests led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces, transforming much of central Beirut into a battle zone.


Macron, who spoke on the video call from his summer retreat on the French Riviera, urged world leaders to “work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails.” He also implored 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, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut.”


“Everyone wants to help!” Trump said Saturday on Twitter before the conference call.


He added that he had spoken with Aoun to inform him that the United States was sending three aircraft with medical assistance and other supplies.


Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said Sunday that Berlin would provide an additional 10 million euros, or about $11.8 million, in emergency aid, on top of the more than 1.2 billion euros in development aid it has given Lebanon since 2012.


Britain said Sunday that it would provide 20 million pounds (about $26 million) to help feed people in Lebanon through the World Food Program, on top of 5 million pounds in financial assistance.


France, a former colonial power in the region, is sending 18 tons of medical aid, including medicines, vaccines and hygiene kits, and 663 tons of food aid, the foreign ministry said.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

© The San Juan Daily Star 

icono.png