An international donor conference organized by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN was held on August 9 to discuss aid to Lebanon, which is facing a number of political and economic challenges in the wake of the August 4 Beirut Port Explosion.
The explosion that occured a few days ago left more than 150 dead and injured 6,000 others. The capital, Beirut, sustained billions of dollars in material damage.
36 countries and organizations took part in the conference that was held online. Turkey, Russia, and Iran were not among the participants. The three countries provided direct aid to Lebanon after the explosion.
The French President, who received an intense welcome from Lebanese people during his recent visit to Beirut, started the conference with a call to coordinate help for Beirut and its people.
“The objective of this conference is for us to unite today to definitively pool our resources in the coming days and weeks to address the needs of Beirut’s population,” said President Macron at the beginning of the donor conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who attended the conference, said his country will cooperate with France to help the Lebanese people. However, he stressed the need for a thorough investigation into Beirut Port blast.
“It is necessary to know who was behind the explosion at Beirut Port, the causes and to answer if the explosion was an accident or not,” Trump said.
President Trump called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate demands of peaceful protestors.
The conference was concluded with a statement promising that the international community won’t let the Lebanese people down. According to the Elysée, the donor raised a total of €252 million for Lebanon.
International donors noted during the conference that any help for Lebanon would need to come with reforms. Lebanese people have been demanding such reforms since October of 2019, when the country was hit by harsh economic crisis that saw the Lebanese pound collapsing to unprecedented low rates.
As day ahead of the conference, Beirut witnessed a wave of anti-government protests. The protestors stormed a number of government buildings and clashed with security forces. Dozens were injured.
The protests renewed in the afternoon of August 9. Thousands of protesters gathered again at Beirut main square and from there set off in an attempt to storm the Parliament. Clashes with security forces were also reported.
Massive protests took place in the streets of Beirut against corruption and neglect leading to the tragedy #Port_Beirut.
— Mohammad Jabur (@M7Jabur) August 9, 2020
— CGTN America (@cgtnamerica) August 9, 2020
In response to the protests a number of Lebanese politicians, who are known to be close to the West, announced their resignation from the country’s Parliament.
The Lebanese Minister of Information, Manal Abdel Samad, also resigned along with Damianus Qitar, the Environment Minister. According to the Lebanese media, a number of other ministers are planning to announce their resignation soon.
The Lebanese government, headed by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, appears to be witnessing its final days. Some sources are even claiming that Diab will announce his resignation soon.
The PM called for an early Parliamentary election a day earlier. A radical solution that could either make or break the country, which has been ruled by a sectarian power-sharing agreement since 1991. With such a pressure from the international community, leaded by the Western countries, this is highly probable.