Aid to Lebanon will come with reforms, donors say

Aid to Lebanon will come with reforms, donors say
Lebanon Explosion

International donors have pledged a total of 252.7 million euro (£228.39 million) in emergency aid during a conference for Lebanon.

Sunday’s donor teleconference was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

International leaders, government officials and international organisations participated, including US President Donald Trump. Donors promised to provide emergency aid – focusing on medicine and hospitals, schools, food and housing.

The rebuilding needs of Lebanon are immense, but so is the question of how to ensure the millions of dollars promised in international aid is not diverted in a country notorious for missing money, invisible infrastructure projects and its refusal to open the books.

More than 30 participants at the conference also pledged help for a “credible and independent” investigation into the Beirut explosion.

They also said that support for the country’s recovery will need to come with reforms demanded by protesters.

They issued a joint statement saying: “In these horrendous times, Lebanon is not alone.”

The conference was aimed at mobilising aid from Europe, the US and regional states to provide medicine, care, food, and housing.

The European Commission has pledged an additional 30 million euros (£27 million) .

Rescue teams search for missing people near the site of the blast (Hassan Ammar/AP)

The Commission said in a statement it came on top of 33 million euros (£30 million) in emergency aid previously announced.

The new EU funding will be channelled to UN agencies, NGOs and international organisations and be strictly monitored, the statement said.

European Council president Charles Michel called during the conference for an “independent and credible” inquiry into the cause of the explosion and said that the European Union and its member states stand ready to assist.

During the conference Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister also called for a “transparent and independent investigation” into the blast.

The Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account later quoted him as saying the kingdom offered its condolences and had sent 290 tons of aid to Lebanon.

And the head of the International Monetary Fund warned Lebanon that it will not get loans unless it reforms its government.

Kristalina Georgieva said: “Current and future generations of Lebanese must not be saddled with more debts than they can ever repay.”

She said the IMF requires “debt sustainability as a condition for lending” and added that “the financial system must be solvent” as well.

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