Trudeau government announces additional humanitarian aid in Lebanon

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an additional $ 25 million in aid to help the Lebanese people struggling to recover from last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut. This brings Canada’s total contribution to the international aid effort to $ 30 million.

Trudeau says the additional funding is intended to help trusted humanitarian aid groups “support emergency medical services and provide shelter, food and other essential items to those affected by the blast.” .

The Trudeau government was criticized last week for doing too little to help the Lebanese people, initially promising only $ 5 million.

Of this amount, $ 2 million was to match donations from Canadians.

It is believed that last Tuesday’s explosion was triggered by thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored for seven years in a port warehouse.

“We will continue to monitor this tragic situation and will work closely with the international community and humanitarian partners to identify how we can continue to support the Lebanese people and meet their urgent needs,” a government statement released Monday evening said.

International Development Minister Karina Gould was more explicit.

“Our government sends a clear message to the Lebanese people that we will not only be there for them for the immediate response to this tragedy, but also for the long-term reconstruction efforts,” she said in the statement.

“We are ready to do more and will ensure that our investments go directly to affected communities. ”

Trudeau said the matching funding has now been increased to a maximum of $ 5 million.

He encouraged Canadians to donate to the Lebanon Matching Fund, saying, “Together we can support the Lebanese people in their work of healing and reconstruction.”

More than 150 people were killed in the blast, thousands more were injured and around 300,000 residents were left homeless.

Canada’s additional aid was announced just hours after Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the resignation of his government after days of angry protests. He blamed the explosion on “the result of endemic corruption”.

Bessma Momani, professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, said the initial Canadian government assistance of $ 5 million was “inadequate and not commensurate with what a G7 country with close ties to the diaspora with Lebanon and a self-proclaimed internationalist program should be engaged. ”

She asked why the government had set an initial cap of $ 2 million on matching grants.

“This is a time when our government should be encouraging (Canadians) to give generously. ”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2020

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