Fri, 25 Sep 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said violence and chaos must not prevail in Lebanon as he opened a UN-backed aid conference for the country rocked by angry protests over negligence blamed for the deadly Beirut port blast.

France has already put in place special air and sea links to facilitate the transfer of more than 18 tonnes of medical equipment and 700 tonnes of food aid to the stricken Lebanese capital.

Opening Sunday's videoconference involving more than a dozen world leaders, President Emmanuel Macron told participants that the authorities in Lebanon have already recognised their responsibilities in provoking angry protests over official negligence and corruption which have been blamed for the Beirut port explosion.

"It is up to the authorities to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut," Macron said.

"We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevail," he added. "It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake."

Eighty million euros needed immediately

The United Nations has estimated that at least 80 million euros will be needed immediately, to cover emergency expenses.

Last Tuesday's devastating explosion killed at least 158 people, injured some 6,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless. Three major hospitals and 120 schools suffered extensive damage.

Lebanese people enraged by the official negligence which they blame for the explosion have since taken to the streets in anti-government protests that have led to clashes with the security forces.

During the videoconference, the French president repeated his call for political and economic reforms, which he said "would allow the international community to act effectively side by side with Lebanon in the reconstruction".

Prime Minister Hassan Diab has already promised that he will call early elections.

Orginally published on RFI

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