Offers of assistance pour in for Lebanon after deadly Beirut explosions

A general view of the scene of after blasts at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4, 2020.
A general view of the scene of after blasts at the port of Lebanon's capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. © STR, AFP
7 min

Countries around the world have been paying tribute to victims of two deadly blasts in Beirut on Tuesday and sending offers of assistance to Lebanon, a country already reeling from the effects of overlapping crises before disaster struck its capital.

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"France stands and will always stand by the side of Lebanon and the Lebanese. It is ready to provide assistance according to the needs expressed by the Lebanese authorities," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a tweet after the incident in Beirut which left scores dead and wounded thousands more.

French President Emmanuel Macron said French aid and resources were being sent to Lebanon.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country stood ready to provide any support it could to help.

"The pictures and videos from Beirut tonight are shocking," Johnson wrote on Twitter. "All of my thoughts and prayers are with those caught up in this terrible incident.

"The UK is ready to provide support in any way we can, including to those British nationals affected."

In the United States, the State Department was closely following reports of an explosion in Beirut and stands ready to offer 'all possible assistance', a spokesperson for the agency said

The State Department has no information about the cause of the explosion, the spokesperson said and added that the agency is working closely with local authorities to determine if any US citizens were affected in the incident.

Israel offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon, with which it is still technically at war, after Tuesday's explosions.

"Following the explosion in Beirut, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, on behalf of the State of Israel, have offered the Lebanese government -- via international intermediaries -- medical and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate emergency assistance," said a joint statement from the two ministries.

Meanwhile, Iran's top diplomat expressed Tehran's support for the "resilient" people of Lebanon after the blasts.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the great and resilient people of Lebanon," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

"As always, Iran is fully prepared to render assistance in any way necessary," he said. "Stay strong, Lebanon."

Countries in the Gulf paid tribute to victims as well, with Qatar saying it would send field hospitals to support Lebanon's medical response.

Qatar's ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani called President Michel Aoun to offer condolences, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency.

Sheikh Tamim wished "a speedy recovery for the injured", QNA reported, adding that he "expressed Qatar's solidarity with brotherly Lebanon and its willingness to provide all kinds of assistance".

Field hospitals would be dispatched, the report added.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates' Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that "our hearts are with Beirut and its people".

He posted the tribute alongside an image of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.

"Our prayers during these difficult hours are that God... protects brotherly Lebanon and the Lebanese to reduce their affliction and heal their wounds," he wrote.

Gulf countries including Qatar and the UAE maintain close ties with Beirut and have long provided financial aid and diplomatic assistance to mediate Lebanon's political and sectarian divisions.

Bahrain's foreign ministry urged its nationals in Lebanon to contact the ministry's operations centre or Manama's representative in Beirut, while Kuwait ordered its citizens to take extreme caution and stay indoors.

It also asked those in need of assistance to contact their embassy.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees extended his best wishes after the tragedy in Beirut.

"With my many Lebanese friends and colleagues tonight, and with all the people of Lebanon — in solidarity, wishing them renewed strength and much courage," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi tweeted Tuesday. Lebanon, a country of around 4.5 million people has been disproportionately affected by the war in neighbouring Syria with an influx of an estimated 1.5 million refugees.

"My thoughts and heart are with people in Beirut, Lebanon, who lost loved ones or were injured in the explosion this afternoon," World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted Tuesday, expressing his support for a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic among other crises.

The WHO's director-general added that his organization "stands ready to support the government and healthworkers in saving lives".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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