Nations Hold Summit on Relief for Beirut Occurs Amid Riots and Lebanese Government Resignations
Aug. 9, 2020 (EIRNS)—Fifteen nations were represented at an online donor’s summit called and hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, and co-hosted by the United Nations, in order to mobilize assistance for Lebanon in rebuilding the stricken capital. Another 15 agencies were represented, including the Red Cross, World Bank, IMF, and the UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock. Pledges totaled in the range of $300 million, and included:
European Union: €30 million in addition to €33 million promised earlier
U.K.: £20 million, identified as for the World Food Program; in addition to £5 million aid package announced earlier this week
Germany: €10 million addition to €1.5 million already pledged
Spain: to send wheat, shelters, medical supplies
Switzerland: $4.38 million
U.S.: $15 million
A UN “Emergency Response Framework” has been devised, in which Phase One, $66.3 million, is to deal with the immediate situation of shelter, food, dealing with COVID-19, and so on; and Phase Two, involving $50.6 million, is for rebuilding housing, public infrastructure and ongoing medical care. These reports are according to France24 news agency.
President Macron, backed by President Donald Trump, called for “an impartial, credible and independent inquiry” into the cause of the terrible explosion. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has ruled out an international investigation.
The summit occurred as hundreds of protesters clashed with police and military units, demonstrating for their second day against the government for its handling of the stockpiled ammonium nitrate that exploded. It is reported that protesters, including army officers, have taken over both the Economics and Foreign Ministries.
Al Jazeera reports that Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab called for early elections, saying, “We can’t exit the country’s structural crisis without holding early parliamentary elections.... We need a new political elite and a new parliament.”
Lebanon’s Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad and Environment Minister Damianos Kattar and at least seven members of parliament have resigned their posts. Christian Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï has asked the entire cabinet to resign.