Finland urges Lebanon reform after €250 million aid conference

International donors held a Sunday conference to pledge money to help Beirut recover from last week's devastating explosion but there are also calls for reform.

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Protests in Beirut on Saturday 8th August 2020 / Credit: @BeirutCityGuide Twitter

Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Green) is urging political reform in Lebanon, as international donors pledged more than €250 million aid after last week’s devastating explosion.

Tuesday’s blast happened after thousands of tons of chemicals ignited at Beirut’s port, and the explosion and subsequent shockwave damaged an estimated 50% of the buildings in the city. At least 158 people were killed, 6,000 were wounded, and 300,000 people were made homeless.

Sunday’s online summit was arranged by the French government and included representatives from EU countries, Middle East countries and the US. Finland already announced €1 million emergency support for Lebanon to be channeled through the International Committee of the Red Cross targeting water, health and food security in Beirut, and helping local hospitals with some supplies they need.

“The explosion on Monday was tragic. Finland immediately made a decision to provide humanitarian aid to Lebanon and sent expert assistance to the country” Haavisto said in a statement.

“In addition to alleviating the immediate distress caused by the explosion, Lebanon must pay attention to political change. Finland has also supported peace and security in Lebanon and the region through long-term participation in peacekeeping” he added.

Haavisto is not alone in calling for reforms in Lebanon – it’s been a theme raised by other countries in the last week. Protests broke out in Beirut over the weekend demanding accountability from the government for those responsible for the conditions at the port which lead to the explosion.

At Sunday’s aid conference Denmark pledged €20 million; Norway offered €6.5 million; the EU pledged an extra €30 million in addition to €33 million already pledged; Germany agreed to give an extra €10 million; USA $15 million; Qatar €50 million; Kuwait €40 million.

France and Spain also promised to send reconstruction materials, supplies of grain to replace stores destroyed in the explosion, construction materials and medical supplies.

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