FORT BREGANCON (France) • An emergency donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon has raised pledges worth nearly €253 million (S$409 million) for immediate humanitarian relief, the French presidency said.
Those commitments would not be conditional on political or institutional reform, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Sunday.
There were also pledges made for longer-term support that would depend on changes brought in by the authorities, the Elysee Palace said.
World powers promised not to fail the Lebanese as their capital, Beirut, recovers from the massive explosion at the port that killed 158 people and destroyed swathes of the city last Tuesday.
Lebanon was already mired in political and financial crisis before the blast. But foreign countries have demanded transparency over how the aid is used, wary of writing blank cheques to a government viewed by its own people as deeply corrupt. Some are concerned about the influence of Iran through the Shi’ite group Hizbollah. The “assistance should be timely, sufficient and consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people… and directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency”, the final communique stated.
Mr Macron, who visited Beirut last Thursday, hosted the conference by video-link, and in his opening remarks urged participating nations to put aside their differences and support the Lebanese people. The international response should be coordinated by the United Nations in Lebanon, he added.
The offer of assistance included support for an impartial, credible and independent inquiry into the blast. Public anger over the explosion has prompted some Lebanese to call for a revolt to topple their political leaders. Many say the blast highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite.
“Our role is to be by their side,” Mr Macron said from his summer retreat on the French Riviera.
President Donald Trump told the conference the United States was ready to continue providing aid to help the Lebanese, the White House said in a statement.
“The President called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate calls of peaceful protesters for transparency, reform and accountability,” the statement added.
Mr Trump later said the US would send additional planes loaded with medical supplies, food and water and would give substantial aid to Lebanon, though he declined to give a dollar figure. “We haven’t given a number, but it will be substantial. On a humanitarian basis, we have to do it,” Mr Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.