PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron urged world leaders to accelerate 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 angry demonstrations against the Lebanese government that threatened to wreak havoc, over 30 international leaders and government officials agreed to accelerate support in a video conference organized by Mr. Macron and the United Nations.
“Today’s goal is to act quickly and effectively to coordinate our aid on the ground so that it is as efficient as possible for the Lebanese people,” Macron told those gathered for the video call, including President Trump, King Abdullah II From Jordan, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi from Egypt and representatives of the World Bank, the Red Cross, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, China and the Arab League.
Michel Aoun, Lebanese President and target of protests against the government’s management of the crisis, also attended.
Mr Macron has repeatedly asked for immediate aid to Lebanon. He Visited The rubble-strewn capital, Beirut, less than 48 hours after two explosions last Tuesday, devastated a wide area there, knocking over cars, shattering windows and buildings and shrouding much of the city in dust and smoke. Around 6,000 people were wounded and an estimated 300,000 were left homeless.
Shock and disbelief have given way to anger among residents in the last few days, sparking demonstrations against what they see as the extreme negligence and corruption of the government that set the stage for the tragedy. Officials in Lebanon say more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizers and bombs, exploded after being stored in a port warehouse since 2014 when they were seized from a cargo ship.
On Saturday the protests led to violent clashes between protesters and security forces turning much of central Beirut into a combat zone.
Speaking on the video call of his summer vacation on the French Riviera, Mr Macron called on world leaders “to work together to ensure there is no violence or chaos”. He also pleaded with the Lebanese authorities “to act in a way that the country does not perish and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are rightly expressing in the streets of Beirut right now”.
“Everyone wants to help!” Mr Trump said Saturday on twitter before the conference call. He added that he spoke with Mr. Aoun to inform him that the United States would send three planes with medical and other supplies.
The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday that Berlin would provide an additional 10 million euros or about 11.8 million US dollars in emergency aid in addition to the more than 1.2 billion euros in development aid it had granted Lebanon since 2012.
The UK said on Sunday that it would provide £ 20 million (about $ 26 million) to feed the people of Lebanon through the World Food Program, in addition to £ 5 million 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.