The European Union will send EUR 33 million in emergency aid. French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting Beirut and assured that he will help the population. Portugal, through the European Civil Protection Mechanism, will send qualified professionals to participate in humanitarian aid.
No one was indifferent to the disastrous accident that happened on Tuesday in Beirut, when two explosions, one of which was of enormous violence, in the port area caused, according to the latest balance of the Lebanese authorities, at least 137 dead and more than 5,000 injured.
The president of the EU community executive, Ursula von der Leyen, after having a telephone conversation with the Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab, in addition to financial support, made available to Beirut teams specialized in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection , a military ship with a helicopter for medical evacuation, medical and protective equipment, and has already posted, for now, more than 100 highly trained search and rescue firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and emergency medical equipment.
France sent rescue teams and medicines, honored the victims with a symbolic blackout of the Eiffel Tower lights and intends to “organize European cooperation and international cooperation at a broader level”. Macron, the first foreign politician to visit the Lebanese capital after the catastrophe, said reforms are needed to deal with the country’s economic crisis as well.
“If these reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink,” he stressed.
The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa expressed his condolences to his Lebanese counterpart. “Portugal has always been attentive to the situation in Lebanon, has supported the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, because it understands that it is fundamental for peace in the region and globally,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Portugal expressed its willingness to help the Lebanese authorities, namely with “the availability to send a Joint National Operational Force, composed of 42 operatives”, which will count on INEM, elements of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority, of GNR and the Lisbon Firefighters Regiment, informed the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Administration.
Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Lebanese official radio that he feared the repercussions of the explosion could cause an “increase in the number of infected people in the coming days” in Beirut, due to the need to prioritize the care of the more than 5,000 wounded caused by explosions.
Hospitals in the Lebanese capital collapsed after the tragedy, with thousands of people arriving with injuries of various types and, according to the minister, many of the protective equipment against coronavirus was lost, which is why the Government wants hospitals campaigns that are being created also address cases of covid-19.
Lebanon has so far accounted for 65 deaths and 5,062 cases of covid-19 and has seen a significant increase in infections in recent weeks.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon should finally announce the sentence of the trial of the four suspects involved in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. However, due to Tuesday’s explosions, the reading was postponed to the 18th of this month “as a sign of respect for countless victims,” the court announced in a statement.
Political experts fear that the condemnation of these four suspects will escalate to a new armed conflict in the country.
Rafic Hariri, a Sunni Muslim and one of Lebanon’s most prominent political figures after the end of the civil war in 1990 (he was prime minister until his resignation in October 2004), was murdered in February 2005 when a trapped truck hit the armored vehicle he was following. The attack was orchestrated by four suspected members of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, Salim Jamil Ayash, Mustafa Amine Badredine, Hussein Hassan Oneisi and Assad Hassan Sabra (who are on trial in absentia in a court in The Hague, The Netherlands), and caused a total of 21 dead and 226 wounded.