International donors pledge nearly $300M in Beirut relief

The virtual conference on Sunday was co-hosted by France and the United Nations.

al-monitor This picture taken on Aug. 9, 2020, shows a view of destroyed freight containers before the cranes at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut, while in the background stand damaged grain silos opposite the blast site where a huge pile of ammonium nitrate that had languished for years at a port warehouse exploded. Photo by PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 10, 2020

The nearly $300 million in humanitarian assistance raised for Beirut at a virtual conference of international donors on Sunday will be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population,” the office of French President Emmanuel Macron said. 

The millions in emergency aid will be distributed “with utmost efficiency and transparency,” according to Macron, who co-hosted the hastily arranged pledge drive with the United Nations. 

“Lebanon's future is being decided now, by Lebanon itself, and with its international partners at its side,” Macron tweeted on Sunday, adding, “Our offer of help includes supporting a credible and independent impartial investigation of the explosion.” 

Thousands of protesters have filled the streets in recent days demanding an independent probe into last Tuesday’s explosion as well as the entire overhaul of the Lebanese government. On Monday, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that he and his cabinet were resigning, saying the blast resulted from "endemic corruption."

Despite repeated warnings, the Lebanese authorities improperly stored a stockpile of ammonium nitrate at Lebanon’s most vital port for years. The highly explosive chemical ignited Tuesday, setting off an explosion that killed more than 150 people, injured 5,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless. Officials estimate the blast caused as much as $15 billion in damage. 

Macron was the first world leader to tour the wreckage, arriving the day after the blast to throngs of crowds begging for his help. France has already dispatched two military planes, a mobile health clinic and 15 tons of equipment to its former colony. A French helicopter carrier with an onboard hospital that is carrying medical personnel and further supplies is due to arrive on Thursday. 

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