Scott Morrison pledges addition $3 million in aid to Lebanon
More than $400 million has been pledged in aid to the people of Lebanon after the devastating explosion that ripped through its capital, Beirut, five days ago.
Scott Morrison joined forces with around 30 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and pledged a further $3 million at a donor conference today.
That’s on top of the initial $2 million in emergency humanitarian aid that was announced.
Mr Morrison also echoed recalls for reform within the government and for an independent probe into the deadly blast.
The donor conference was chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The leaders vowing to deliver the aid swiftly and directly to the people of Lebanon, not to its government.
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.
And the port — the epicentre of the explosion that shattered Beirut, the centre of Lebanon’s import-based economy.
and a source of graft so lucrative that Lebanon’s political factions were willing to divide its control so everyone could get a piece — sits at the heart of the fears.
The international donor teleconference raised a total of $416 million in emergency aid, organisers said.
The head of the International Monetary Fund, which wants an audit of the national bank before handing over any money, was clear:
no money without changes to ensure ordinary Lebanese aren’t crushed by debt whose benefits they never see.
“Current and future generations of Lebanese must not be saddled with more debts than they can ever repay,” IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said during the conference.
“Commitment to these reforms will unlock billions of dollars for the benefit of the Lebanese people.”
International leaders, government officials and international organisation participated in the teleconference to bring emergency aid to Lebanon, including President Donald Trump.
International diplomacy usually calls for careful language.
Rigged votes are “irregular”.
The response to furious protests should be “measured”. Disappearing funds require “transparency”.
But Mr Macron’s response to the crowd in Beirut and in a later speech there was unusually blunt: the aid “will not fall into corrupt hands;” and Lebanon’s discredited government must change.
In the short-term, the aid streaming into Lebanon is purely for humanitarian emergencies and relatively easy to monitor.
The US, France, Britain, Canada and Australia, among others; have been clear that it is going directly to trusted local aid groups; like the Lebanese Red Cross or UN agencies.
“Our aid is absolutely not going to the government.
Our aid is going to the people of Lebanon,” John Barsa of USAID said.
But actual rebuilding requires massive imports of supplies and equipment.
The contracts and subcontracts have given Lebanon’s ruling elite its wealth and power; while leaving the country with crumbling roads; regular electricity cuts; trash that piles on the streets; as well as intermittent water supplies.
“The level of infrastructure in Lebanon is directly linked today to the level of corruption,” Neemat Frem, a prominent Lebanese businessman and independent member of parliament. said.
“We badly need more dollars but I understand that the Lebanese state and its agencies are not competent.”
Lebanon has an accumulated debt of about US$100 billion ($140 billion); for a population of just under seven million people; five million Lebanese and two million Syrians and Palestinians, most of them refugees.
Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer.
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