One week after the devastating explosion, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is travelling to Lebanon today (12 August). His message is that Germany will not leave the Lebanese people to cope on their own.
In Beirut, Foreign Minister Maas will gain a first-hand insight into the situation and the impact of the disaster and assure the victims and their families of Germany’s solidarity and support. In the port of Beirut he will meet representatives of Lebanese civil defence and disaster relief. Maas will speak to them and representatives of the Lebanese Red Cross about how Germany as well as other states and international organisations can best deploy the pledged funds to help those affected by this disaster in Beirut. Germany has pledged a total of 21.8 million euro in emergency aid. Prior to his departure, Maas stressed:
We want to get this aid to Beirut quickly and directly to the people, via the United Nations and experienced aid organisations.
Political and economic reforms
The protests in Beirut against political leaders are continuing following the resignation of the government. Lebanon had been facing major challenges even before the explosion. Maas will hold talks with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, as well as representatives of civil society about the country’s future and the reconstruction needed following the explosion. Here too, Lebanon can count on Germany and the other international partners.
The German Government firmly believes that far-reaching economic reforms, which must be implemented without delay, are key to this. For the country must not be further destabilised. It is crucial that political leaders take the legitimate demands of the demonstrators seriously and listen to them.
Meeting in the Embassy
It is very important to the Foreign Minister that he speak to staff at the Germany Embassy in Beirut. One colleague was killed in the explosion - a severe blow for the Federal Foreign Office, but especially for those in her immediate environment. Other staff members have been injured, while many have lost their homes and are in a state of shock. Maas wants to express to them all his own deepest sympathy and solidarity and that of the entire Federal Foreign Office.
The first international humanitarian aid has already arrived in Beirut. Germany will provide Lebanon with 21.8 million euro for ongoing emergency aid. Germany is the country’s second‑largest bilateral donor. Since 2012, we have provided more than 1.2 billion euro via our development cooperation portfolio and 634 million euro for humanitarian aid measures. The EU is also a leading supporter of Lebanon, providing over 2.3 billion euro of assistance since 2011, including over 660 million euro in humanitarian aid. The European Commission has already agreed to send additional emergency funds of 63 million euro for coping with the current emergency. The additional funds for humanitarian aid will be distributed through UN, non-governmental and international organizations. Disbursement will be carefully monitored.