UN chief calls for ‘robust international support’ for recovery of Lebanon after explosions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a “credible and transparent” investigation into the causes of the explosion at Beirut’s port last week that killed dozens of people and left thousands injured.
The Lebanese People Have Protested For Several Months
His comments echoed the demands of protesters who took to the streets throughout the weekend and on Monday. They blame years of government corruption and incompetence for the blast.
Amal Mudallali, Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN, likened the blast to “15 years of war in 15 seconds, the darkest 15 seconds we have ever seen.”
In an emotional keynote speech during a UN virtual briefing on the humanitarian situation in Lebanon, she added: “People are demanding, and deserve, justice — and rightly so.”
As he opened the international gathering on Monday, Guterres saluted the spirit of the Lebanese people in the aftermath of the massive explosion, giving the example of “neighbors helping neighbors, people clearing their streets of broken glass and opening their homes to those who have lost theirs.”
United Nation’s Aide To Lebanon
The UN on Monday voiced “total” solidarity with Lebanon, saying it will continue to support the country “in every possible way” following massive explosions that struck the Beirut port last week.
“The blast has come at an already difficult time for Lebanon, with the country already facing economic hardship and impacts of the coronavirus virus,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a briefing, offering his condolences to the families of more than 150 victims.
Guterres called for “robust international support” for all people in need in Lebanon.
He urged international donors to provide aid “speedily and generously” to help the devastated country, but also stressed the importance of implementing longer-term political and economic reforms in the country that address the needs of the Lebanese people.
The UN has sent search-and-rescue experts to assist first responders in Beirut, along with desperately needed medical supplies to treat the injured. In addition, the organization has provided $15 million to help fund urgent needs such as temporary shelters for families whose homes were damaged, and the import of wheat flour and grain for bakeries to help address food shortages across the country after grain silos at the port were destroyed.
International Support And Prayers For Lebanon Were Witnessed
“The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs helped to organize the deployment of experts from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination system to help first responders in Beirut.
“A plane carrying 20 tons of World Health Organization health supplies landed in Beirut on Wednesday to cover 1,000 trauma interventions and 1,000 surgical interventions for people suffering from injuries and burns as a result of the blast,” Guterres said.
Also within hours of the blast, Najat Rochdi, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon, released $9 million from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund to address immediate needs, and on Friday, the Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock released a further $6 million, he added.
The UN is supporting the Lebanese Red Cross and other partners in providing temporary shelter for displaced families as well.
– ‘Voice of Lebanese people must be heard’
The Beirut Explosion
Two massive explosions rocked the Port of Beirut last Tuesday after a neglected stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse there ignited.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical substance often used to make bombs and commonly used in fertilizer. Terrorism has been ruled out as a probable cause of the blasts.
The blasts rocked Beirut to its core, registering 3.5 on the Richter scale and shattering buildings miles in the distance. At least 163 people lost their lives, approximately 6,000 were injured and 300,000 have been left homeless.
Lebanon was already in crisis, plagued with severe financial and economic problems and rampant corruption.
Protesters have taken to the streets with violent anti-government demonstrations for the past two nights, storming official buildings and clashing with police.