The Latest: Another Lebanon Cabinet member resigns
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the explosion in Beirut (all times local):
Lebanon’s environment minister has resigned.
Kattar Demianos is the second Cabinet member to step down amid anger in the country following the blast that ripped across the capital of Beirut.
Demianos said in a statement late Sunday that he’s leaving the government in solidarity with the victims. The blast killed 160 people and wounded 6,000.
He described the ruling system in Lebanon as “flaccid and sterile” and says it’s wasted several chances to reform.
Demianos had offered his resignation earlier Sunday but was in talks with Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
People in Lebanon have blamed the explosion on negligence and mismanagement. Angry protests followed amid calls for government officials to resign.
Another Cabinet member stepped down earlier Sunday.
French organizers say international donors have pledged a total of 225.7 million euros, or $298 million, in emergency aid during conference for Lebanon.
Sunday’s donor teleconference was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
International leaders, government officials and international organization participated, including President Donald Trump.
Donors promised to provide emergency aid, focusing on medicine and hospitals, schools, food and housing.
The rebuilding needs of Lebanon are immense, but so is the question of how to ensure the millions of dollars promised in international aid is not diverted in a country notorious for missing money, invisible infrastructure projects and its refusal to open the books.
Over 30 participants to the international aid conference for Lebanon have pledged help for a “credible and independent” investigation into the Beirut explosion.
They also said that support to the country’s recovery will need to come with reforms demanded by protesters.
International leaders, government officials and international organizations participated Sunday in the teleconference co-organized by France and the United Nations to bring emergency aid to Lebanon. President Donald Trump was among the participants.
They issued a joint statement saying, “In these horrendous times, Lebanon is not alone.”
The conference aimed at mobilizing aid from Europe, the U.S. and regional states to provide medicine, care, food, and housing.
The European Commission has pledged additional 30 million euros ($35 million) at an international donors’ conference for Lebanon after deadly Beirut explosion.
The EU’s executive body said in a statement this comes on top of 33 million euros ($39 million) in emergency aid previously announced.
The new EU funding will be channeled to UN agencies, NGOs and international organizations and be strictly monitored, the statement said.
European Council president Charles Michel called during the conference for an “independent and credible” inquiry into the cause of the explosion and said that he European Union and its member states stand ready to assist.
The head of the International Monetary Fund is warning Lebanon again that it will not get loans from the institution unless it reforms its government.
Kristalina Georgieva made the comments Sunday during a pledging conference after the blast this week at its port damaged large parts of its capital, Beirut.
She said: “Current and future generations of Lebanese must not be saddled with more debts than they can ever repay.”
That’s why she said the IMF requires “debt sustainability as a condition for lending.” She added that “the financial system must be solvent” as well.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has called for a “transparent and independent investigation” into the blast in Beirut.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan made the comment Sunday during a pledging conference for Beirut.
The Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account later quoted him as saying the kingdom offered its condolences and had sent 290 tons of aid to Lebanon.
The emir of energy-rich Qatar has said that the Beirut blast is a “dire circumstance” that Lebanon cannot get over on its own.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made the statement Sunday during a pledging conference for the crisis.
He posted a clip of his comments on Twitter.
Sheikh Tamim said that “strengthening national unity” was needed in Lebanon after the blast. He also said unifying and strengthening the government and society’s response, as well as providing international aid, also was important.
Cyprus’ president said he’s ready to place the island nation’s sea and airports at the disposal of the international community for conveying humanitarian aid or any other assistance to neighboring Lebanon.
President Nicos Anastasiades says Cyprus will send 40 more tons of medical supplies, generators, clothing and nonperishable food to Lebanon on top of the five tons that have already been dispatched.
Anastasiades said in a statement during Sunday’s Lebanon support teleconference that Cypriot rescue crews and sniffer dogs are already in Beirut and more could be dispatched if Lebanese President Michel Aoun requests it.
Additionally, the Cypriot president pledged 5 million euros in financial aid.
Cyprus is about 130 miles (207 kilometers) from Beirut.
Spain’s government says it will send emergency aid to Lebanon, including medicine and medical supplies, to help after last week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
The shipment will include 10 tons of wheat donated by the Olof Palme International Foundation. Several containers of wheat were destroyed in the explosion.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a statement that Lebanon “will need a lot of support to cope with the damage.”
Spain has 610 soldiers on a UNIFIL mission in Lebanon, second only to Italy.
Britain has pledged 20 million pounds ($26 million) to help feed people in Lebanon after last week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
The U.K. government announced the aid during a virtual international donor conference for the country on Sunday.
It says the money will go to the World Food Program to provide food and medicine for the most vulnerable.
Britain has previously pledged 5 million pounds to Lebanon and is sending specialist medics and a Royal Navy survey ship to Beirut. The ship will help assess damage from the blast fueled by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, which leveled Beirut’s port and devastated much of the city.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says his country will provide an additional 10 million euros in emergency aid to Lebanon following the explosion that killed more than 150 people and injured thousands more.
In a statement Sunday, Maas said that “even after the worst of the rubble is removed there will remain a lot to do” because even before the disaster Lebanon faced “overwhelming challenges.”
Maas said that “without urgently needed reforms there can be neither sustainable change nor stability.”
Berlin is the second biggest bilateral donor to Lebanon, according to the German Foreign Ministry. Since 2012, Germany has provided more than 1.2 billion euros in development aid to the country, as well as 634 million euros for humanitarian work.
France is sending a helicopter carrier and a cargo ship loaded with aid and supplies to Beirut as the country is organizing an international donors’ conference for Lebanon.
The French foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that the two ships come in addition to eight flights scheduled since the Beirut devastating blast to bring experts, rescue workers and supplies.
The Tonnerre helicopter carrier, which has a hospital onboard, is leaving on Sunday the port of Toulon, on the French Mediterranean coast. It is carrying medical equipment and staff, engineering forces, construction materials and food aid including flour, baby food and drinking water.
A cargo ship loaded with aid will also leave France in the coming days.
In total, France is sending 18 tons of medical aid including medicines, vaccines and hygiene kits and 663 tons of food aid, the foreign ministry said.
A top USAID official says $15 million in American assistance in response to the port explosion in Beirut will not be under the control of the government there but is intended to go directly to those who need it most.
Speaking ahead of his departure for Beirut, John Barsa said Sunday that assistance would be directed to medical authorities at the American University of Beirut and the American Lebanese University.
The U.S. is providing money to the World Food Program for emergency meals for about 300,000 people affected by the explosion at the Beirut port in addition to emergency medical kits, U.S. officials said.
Pope Francis has renewed his appeal for unity within Lebanon and for help from abroad as the nation reels from the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port.
In remarks Sunday to the public in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff said the “catastrophe calls on everyone, beginning with the Lebanese, to work together for the common good of this beloved country.”
Francis cited what he called Lebanon’s “particular identify,” which has “emerged over the course of time as a model of living together.”
But he acknowledged the fragility of such co-existence in such a trying time. Still, he said. he is praying that, “with God’s help, and everyone genuine participation,” Lebanon may be “reborn free and strong.”
He also appealed to the international community to generously aid Lebanon at this time of tragedy.
A team of German engineers sent to Lebanon to help search for people trapped in the rubble after last week’s explosion in Beirut is returning home, having failed to find any survivors.
Joerg Eger, who heads the THW agency’s rapid rescue team in Lebanon, said Sunday that a number of specialist engineers would remain in Beirut until Thursday to assist in determining the safety of buildings affected by the blast.
TWF is a federal agency, but most of the people who go on missions are volunteers.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that an international donors’ conference is aiming to show global support for Lebanon after the devastating Beirut blast.
Over 30 international leaders and government officials were taking part Sunday in the video conference co-organized by France and the United Nations to raise money, including President Donald Trump, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Officials from China, European countries and Gulf countries were also attending.
Turkey and Russia, absent from the conference, are expected to provide aid as well, Macron said in his opening speech.
Macron, who was the first foreign leader to visit Beirut in the wake of the explosion, said emergency aid will focus on providing medicine, care, food and housing.
“It is important that aid goes as quickly as possible to public and private actors, NGOs and the civilian society,” under U.N. supervision, he added.
Macron also called on Lebanese authorities to carry out essential political and economic reforms to fight corruption in the country.