On Wednesday, France will host an international conference to increase aid to Lebanon in crisis, and it will coincide with the first anniversary of the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut.
The UN-backed conference will be hosted by President Emmanuel Macron. It aims to mobilize resources to help the former French colony, which is struggling to recover from the political and socio-economic impacts of the explosion.
In August last year, a massive explosion triggered by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in one of the port’s sheds ravaged the port, killing more than 200 people, injuring more than 6,500 and displacing more than 300,000 people. The World Bank has estimated the cost of physical damage to be between $ 3.8 billion and $ 4.6 billion, with economic losses amounting to $ 2.9 billion to $ 3.5 billion.
“To meet the needs of the Lebanese people, whose situation is worsening day by day, a new international conference in support of the Lebanese population will be held on August 4 at the instigation of President Macron, with the support of the UN. », Declared the French president. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.
A similar conference shortly after the explosion a year ago succeeded in raising $ 297 million from international donors.
France hopes that the resources mobilized from the conference will help bring stability to the country, which is going through a political and economic crisis. Unemployment rates are increasing, half of the population lives below the poverty line and the Lebanese currency has lost more than 90% of its value since October 2019. These developments prevent the country from focusing on the reconstruction of the strategic port.
A multitude of foreign companies from France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, China and others lined up to help the country rebuild the port, but the endless political crisis that erupted after the explosion left Lebanon without a clear direction.
French shipping giant CMA CGM and a consortium of Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) and Colliers International are among the companies that have put forward multibillion-dollar proposals to rebuild the port, which is of strategic importance to the trade routes of the Mediterranean.
Estimates show that it will cost between $ 5 billion and $ 15 billion to rebuild the port and its surroundings which were reduced to rubble by the massive explosion.
The Port of Beirut is Lebanon’s main foreign trade gateway and primarily serves domestic demand, handling around 90 percent of the country’s maritime trade by value. The overall volume of trade at the port consists of around 90 percent imports and 10 percent exports, indicating a significant trade imbalance. The throughput at the port amounts to six to eight million tonnes of cargo per year and consists mainly of containers, general cargo and dry bulk.