- France has already sent relief teams and medicines to Lebanon.
- Lebanese who gathered for President Macron's visit booed President Aoun.
- Macron told the crowd that he was going to propose a political “new pact” to Lebanese officials at meetings this afternoon.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beirut today and announced his intention to “organize international aid” to Lebanon following the devastating explosions in the port of the Lebanese capital. He also called upon the country’s leaders to implement reforms without delay.
“We will have to organise additional support in the coming days, at the French level, also at the European level. I wish to organise European cooperation and more broadly international cooperation,” Macron said. The France president was received at the international airport of Beirut by his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Aoun.
France has already sent relief teams and medicines to Lebanon. “The priority is aid, support to the population, unconditionally,” Macron stated. He added, “because it’s Lebanon, because it’s France.”
Macron is the first foreign head of state who has traveled to Lebanon after Tuesday’s explosions, which destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital, causing at least 137 deaths and over 5,000 injuries.
The explosions, caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse, almost completely destroyed the port of Beirut, causing significant damage to the city.
Following the tragedy, Beirut was declared a “disaster zone,” and a state of emergency was declared for two weeks in the city. Dozens of people remain missing.
Macron, who is expected to meet with top Lebanese leaders during his one-day visit, urged them to undertake the reforms demanded by the international community without delay.
“The priority is unconditional aid and support for the population,” Mr Macron said at the airport. “We will be there for you and won’t give up on you” said Macron. “Beyond the blast, we know the crisis here is serious, it involves the historic responsibility of leaders in place.”
“We can’t do without telling each other some home truths,” he added. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink.” Macron indicated that he wanted to “have a real dialogue” with Lebanese officials.
The French president and his counterpart then toured to the Christian neighborhood of Gemmayzé, one of those devastated by the explosions. Lebanese who gathered for President Macron’s visit booed President Aoun, and asked for France’s help to expel the ruling leaders.
“We have no trust at all in this ruling gang,” said Jumblatt, whose party has lawmakers in parliament but is not in the cabinet.
Macron told the crowd that he was going to propose a political “new pact” to Lebanese officials at meetings this afternoon, and that he was going to ask them “to carry out reforms. . . to change the system, to stop the division of Lebanon, to fight against corruption.”
The tragedy struck a country experiencing a serious economic crisis, marked by an unprecedented devaluation of its currency, hyperinflation, and mass layoffs. It was aggravated by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, which forced the authorities to confine the population for three months.