Aid summit raises $300 million for Lebanon

BEIRUT: A host of nations pledged nearly $300 million in humanitarian assistance for Lebanon at a conference aimed at garnering support for the crisis-hit country days after deadly explosions in Beirut.
In a joint statement after Sunday’s virtual event, the donor countries said the financial aid will be “directly delivered to the Lebanese population” and offered support for an independent inquiry into the disaster.
In his opening remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron, who led the conference, said the funds would primarily support healthcare, food security, education and housing.
“The Lebanese authorities must now implement political and economic reforms demanded by the Lebanese people and which alone will enable the international community to act effectively alongside Lebanon for reconstruction,” Macron said.
France has organised four donor conferences for Lebanon in the last 20 years where more than $20 billion was pledged. Macron’s office said the meeting raised pledges worth almost 253 million euros ($298m). Lebanon is suffering from a major economic crisis and a growing coronavirus outbreak as well as the devastating aftermath of the explosion. 
Some 36 countries and international institutions participated in Sunday’s online conference, which was held under the auspices of the United Nations and whose attendees included US President Donald Trump, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Pledges included 63 million euros ($74 million) by the European Commission; 50 million from France ($59m); $50m from Qatar; $41m from Kuwait, $26m from Denmark; $20m from Germany; five million euros ($5.9m) from Cyprus and $5m from Canada. Other nations have previously pledged aid including the United States at $17 million.
The amounts will be routed through the UN, international organisations and NGOs, rather than the Lebanese government. Macron said the assistance would be closely monitored by the UN and come with support for an “impartial, credible and independent investigation into the causes of the disaster” at the port.
“It is a strong and legitimate demand of the Lebanese people. It’s a matter of confidence and the means are available and must be mobilised,” he added.
The French president also reiterated calls made during a visit to Beirut earlier this week for reforms to Lebanon’s crippled energy sector in addition to the public procurement system, fighting corruption and auditing the central bank and the financial sector.
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