From the United States to France via China, Russia and Egypt, international donors are meeting this Sunday, August 9 for a videoconference in support of Lebanon, ravaged by a gigantic explosion and the economic crisis. The huge explosion Tuesday, in a warehouse in the port of the Lebanese capital, left at least 158 dead, 6,000 injured, dozens missing and hundreds of thousands homeless.
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The online conference, organized at the initiative of France and the UN, starts at 2 p.m. It should mark the beginning of an " emergency and hope for the future " of the country, the French presidency said the day before.
The first leader to visit the Lebanese capital after the deadly explosion, French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday promised Beirut rapid and massive aid from the international community.
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" Everyone wants to help "
US President Donald Trump has announced that he will participate in this meeting: "We will be doing a video conference on Sunday with President Macron, the leaders of Lebanon and leaders from other places in the world," he tweeted on Saturday. “ Everyone wants to help! " he added.
Israel will not be " in the round table " of this conference, it was specified at the Elysee, but a contact is " made by the UN ".
For its part, Iran has " not expressed its willingness to participate ", but " the Gulf countries - Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia - have been invited, " added the Elysee, specifying no have " no doubt that they will be represented ". Egypt, Qatar and the WHO will open field hospitals.
The European institutions will also participate in this conference to mobilize emergency humanitarian aid.
The latest initiatives to date, the Canadian government announced on Saturday the launch of a relief fund for Lebanon and called on Canadians to be generous. France has set up an air and sea bridge to transport more than 18 tonnes of medical aid and nearly 700 tonnes of food aid. A cargo plane left on Saturday, two more were en route on Sunday.
No blank checks for Lebanon
If the UN has estimated at 85 million dollars the needs of Lebanon for the health sector alone, the entourage of the French president did not want to give the amount of aid that could be released on Sunday.
" The immediate objective is to provide for the emergency needs of Lebanon, on conditions which allow aid to go directly to the population, " explained the Elysee. The priorities are “ the consolidation of damaged buildings, emergency medical aid, food aid and the restoration of hospitals and schools. [...] The methodology is the one that international organizations use, there is a need that we do not write a blank check to the Lebanese government ”.
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The catastrophe of too many
The devastation caused by the explosion, apparently caused by the storage of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate in a depot in the port of Beirut, is one catastrophe too many for the Lebanese.
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Lebanon has been plunged for months into a very serious economic crisis, marked by an unprecedented depreciation of its currency, hyperinflation, massive layoffs and drastic banking restrictions.
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On Saturday August 8, thousands of protesters marched through downtown Beirut. Led by retired officers, demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, proclaiming it “ headquarters of the Revolution ”.
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Exasperation of the Lebanese people
For the French presidency, the demonstrations “ testify to the exasperation, the distress of the population, the need for things to change ”. " Lebanon is sinking, we think it has hit rock bottom, and therefore it is time to come back to the surface ", commented again the entourage of Emmanuel Macron, recalling that the French president has promised during his visit on Thursday that the aid would not go to " corruption ".
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Lebanese President Michel Aoun, for his part, on Friday rejected any international investigation into the gigantic explosion at the port of Beirut, saying that it could have been caused by negligence or by a missile, while rescuers were still working to find survivors.
Paris, on the other hand, considered that there were " enough objective elements to believe that the explosion was accidental ".
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