Macron told donors’ conference in Lebanon: “We must act quickly”

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World powers owe the support of the Lebanese people after a massive warehouse explosion that devastated the country’s capital, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.”We need to act quickly and effectively so that this aid goes directly to where it is needed,” Macron said in his opening remarks at a UN-backed donor conference he was hosting via video link. “The future of Lebanon is at stake.”

The president said the offer of assistance included support for an impartial, credible and independent investigation into the port explosion on August 4 that killed at least 158 ​​people.

In another development, Lebanese Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad announced his resignation on Sunday, citing the explosion and the government’s failure to carry out reforms.

She also apologized to the Lebanese people and said the government had failed to meet their expectations.

The explosion in the port warehouse, containing ammonium nitrate, caused damages of 10 to 15 billion US dollars, according to the governor of Beirut. It also killed over 150 people, injured thousands more and damaged 6,200 buildings.

Some Lebanese on Sunday called for a sustained uprising to topple their leaders amid public fury at the disaster, and the country’s top Maronite Christian cleric said the cabinet should resign.

Protesters have called on the government to step down for what they call negligence that has allowed 2,750 tonnes of explosive ammonium nitrate to be stored in the city’s port since 2014.

WATCH | Lebanese protesters encountered tear gas:

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas at protesters demonstrating against the country’s ruling class, which is accused of mismanagement that led to Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut. 10:54 a.m.

The anger turned on Saturday into scenes of violence in central Beirut.

Maronite Christian Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said the cabinet should resign if it cannot “change the way it governs.”

A grain silo in the port of Beirut is seen damaged on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

“The resignation of a deputy or a minister is not enough … the whole government should resign if it is not able to help the country to recover,” he said in his Sunday sermon.

Dozens of people were injured in Saturday’s protests, the largest since October, when thousands took to the streets to protest against corruption, bad governance and mismanagement.

PHOTOS | Protesters clash with security forces amid unrest caused by the deadly explosion in Beirut:

About 10,000 people gathered in Martyrs Square, which was turned into a fighting zone in the evening between police and protesters who tried to break down a barrier along a road leading to parliament. Some protesters stormed government ministries and the Association of Lebanese Banks.

Protesters defied dozens of tear gas canisters that shot them and threw stones and firecrackers at riot police, some of whom were taken in ambulances. A policeman was killed.

The Red Cross said it treated 117 people for injuries at the scene on Saturday, while 55 others were taken to hospital.

WATCH | Why the Lebanese might fear aid channeled by the government:

Sending aid through the Lebanese government would legitimize the leaders the protesters want, says Ruby Dagher, an international aid specialist. 1:06

On Sunday, soldiers in vehicles equipped with machine guns were stationed next to the Place des Martyrs.

“People should be sleeping in the streets and protesting the government until it falls,” lawyer Maya Habli said, as she inspected the demolished port where the explosion erupted.

Among the countries that already offer assistance to Lebanon:

  • Britain has offered £ 5million (C $ 8.7million) aid including search and rescue assistance and specialist medical support. The Royal Navy’s HMS Enterprise will help assess the damage.
  • Iran is sending nine tons of food, as well as medicine, medical supplies, medical personnel and a field hospital, according to Iranian media.
  • Iraq sends a plane with emergency medical aid and fuel aid. Twenty-two tankers carrying 800,000 liters of diesel arrived at the Lebanese border on Saturday.
  • Norway has pledged 40 tons of medical supplies and 25 million Norwegian kroner (CAN $ 3.73 million) in financial assistance.
  • Qatar dispatched the first of four planned flights with medical aid on Wednesday and will provide two field hospitals with 500 beds each, along with ventilators and other medical supplies.
  • The United States has pledged more than US $ 17 million in initial disaster assistance to Lebanon, the US embassy said on Friday.
  • The Canadian government announced on Wednesday that it is contributing C $ 5 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon, including $ 1.5 million that will be directed to the Lebanese Red Cross to provide emergency medical services, shelter and food.

WATCH | Worst damage revealed to the port of Beirut:

The damage to the port of Beirut, where the explosion occurred, shows the full force of the explosion. 1:26

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