International community pledges help for Lebanon

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International community pledges help for LebanonWorld leaders have pledged millions of dollars for disaster-struck Lebanon, during an online aid summit aimed at helping the country.

International leaders that took part in a virtual donor conference have pledged nearly $300m in humanitarian assistance which will be directly delivered to the people through the United Nations, international organisations and NGOs, but not the Lebanese government

The United Kingdom pledged $26million, whilst the European Commission pledged $35 million. For his part, the US President Donald Trump said the US would give ‘substantial’ aid but did not elaborate.

"On a humanitarian basis, we have to do it,” Trump said. “We have to do it. It's, you know, you can almost say how does a country survive such a tragedy? This was at a level that people over there, they said, is at a level that we've never seen before."

Meanwhile, on the streets of Beirut anger at the explosion is still raw. On Sunday, police fired tear gas to try to clear protesters blocking a road near Parliament in a second day of demonstrations.

The political fallout is well underway – so far, the Justice Minister, Information Minister and Environment Minister have all resigned. On Monday, protesters called for a rally to demand the President step down.

State controlled radio said 20 people are being questioned in relation to the blast, including the head of the customs department and the executive in charge of Beirut port.

It is estimated that the explosion caused up to $15 billion in damage as well as leaving 158 people dead, 5,000 injured and 300,000 homeless.

Even before the blast, Lebanon was suffering a deep economic crisis and struggling to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Nathan Morley