World leaders to hold aid summit after Beirut explosion

World leaders to hold aid summit after Beirut explosion
It is estimated that Beirut explosion damaged the assets of whopping 15 billion dollars. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: International leaders will hold talks on Sunday to raise aid for Lebanon after the massive explosion in the country’s capital Beirut which devastated the city on Tuesday.

The virtual conference – set up by the United Nations and France – starts at 14:00 Lebanon time (11;00 GMT).

US President Donald Trump has said he plans to join the conference.

Officials estimate the blast caused up to $15 billion (£11.5bn) in damage. It has been reported that the blast at the warehouse caused because of 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely.

At least 158 people dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless due to that massive explosion.

Several thousand people took to the streets on Saturday, with police firing tear gas at stone-throwing protesters and some demonstrators storming government ministries.

Lebanese PM Hassan Diab said in a televised address that he would ask for early elections as a way out of the crisis caused by the Beirut explosion. The issue will be discussed in cabinet on Monday.

Lebanon was already struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and mired in a deep economic crisis before the explosion tore through Beirut.

Last October, an anti-government protest movement erupted, fuelled by the financial situation and a collapsing currency.

What’s happening on Sunday?

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on Thursday and said that he wanted to coordinate international aid for the country.

France’s presidential palace says in a statement that Sunday’s conference “will aim to mobilize Lebanon’s main international partners and to organize and coordinate emergency support from the international community”.

Representatives from European Union member states, Russia, Egypt, China, Jordan and the UK will all take part, with many others invited to attend.

President Trump said in a series of tweets that he had discussed the “catastrophic event” in Beirut with Mr Macron and would himself join the call.

“Everyone wants to help!” he wrote.

A number of countries have already pledged millions of dollars worth of aid and sent health workers, ships and materiel to assist Beirut.

But UN agencies have warned about the massive challenge ahead and called for more aids. Many homes are without electricity and water, there are growing worries about food shortages, and cases of Covid-19 are spiking in the country – an additional challenge for hospitals which are already overwhelmed.

Unicef spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva on Friday that the needs are immediate and they are huge.

You may read: Anti-government protests break out in Beirut after devastating blast