INTERNATIONAL – Five days after the terrible explosion that devastated Beirut, the international community mobilized this Sunday, August 9, an emergency aid of 250 million euros, promising that it will be distributed “directly” to the population and calling for a “transparent” investigation into the causes of the disaster.
“In this horrible period, Lebanon is not alone”, assured the thirty heads of state, government and ministers brought together by France and the UN by videoconference.
We must “act quickly,” urged French President Emmanuel Macron, addressing his US counterpart Donald Trump, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, the Prime Ministers of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, and of Spain, Pedro. Sánchez and officials from large international organizations (IMF, World Bank, Red Cross, etc.).
A total of 252.7 million euros was raised in immediate or short-term aid to help the victims of the huge explosion that left at least 158 dead, 6,000 injured, dozens missing and hundreds of thousands homeless on Tuesday. said the French presidency.
The European Union has pledged 60 million euros to cover “the most urgent needs”. In the Gulf, Qatar has promised $ 50 million. Saudi Arabia, for its part, was particularly concerned about the “hegemony” of the pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.
The contribution from France, which has already sent eight planes loaded with aid, amounts to 30 million euros. The Tonnerre helicopter carrier, equipped with a hospital and with 200 tons of flour, dairy and children’s products on board, set sail in the afternoon from Toulon (south).
Lebanese exasperated by the political class
“The participants agreed that their assistance must (…) be well coordinated, under the auspices of the United Nations, and provided directly to the Lebanese population, with maximum efficiency and transparency,” the statement is written. broadcast at the end of the meeting.
They thus express their distrust of a Lebanese political class hated by the population, which denounces its corruption and negligence while Lebanon is already in a critical economic situation.
New protests took place in this country on Sunday, the day after a day of mobilization marked by angry protesters storming government departments.
Opening the conference, Emmanuel Macron warned against “violence and chaos,” while urging the Lebanese authorities to “act so that the country does not sink and respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing at this very moment. . legitimately ”. Donald Trump also called for calm, recognizing the “legitimacy of the peaceful protesters’ calls for transparency.”
The French leader pointed to “powers” that have “an interest in this division and chaos”, in an apparent reference to Iran, and insisted on the need for “unity” of the international community. He said he expected Turkey and Russia to provide support, as well as Israel, which “has expressed a desire to provide assistance.”
In the aftermath of the disaster, international emergency aid focused on four priorities: health, food for the Lebanese, who largely passed through the port of Beirut, rehabilitation of affected schools and damaged homes.
Donors demand “credible research”
The time will come for the reconstruction of the infrastructure that will be linked, like the international aid of 11.6 billion dollars promised in 2018 – and not paid to date – to the implementation of far-reaching reforms, for which it was momentarily in print. dead despite recurring commitments by the Lebanese authorities.
“These reforms will unlock billions of dollars for the Lebanese people. It is time for Lebanese leaders to act decisively, ”said Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva.
Like most of his counterparts, Donald Trump urged the Lebanese government to conduct a “full and transparent” investigation into the causes of the explosion in Beirut.
To this end, the countries attending the meeting offered an “offer of assistance” for “an impartial, credible and independent investigation,” according to the statement. Some 50 French policemen and gendarmes were dispatched to the scene and “cooperate perfectly with the relevant Lebanese services,” according to Paris.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun had ruled out any international investigation on Friday and claimed that the explosion may have been caused by negligence or by a missile. France, for its part, considered that there was “sufficient objective evidence to believe that the explosion was accidental.”
See also in The HuffPost: In Beirut, this woman plays the piano in her devastated home