‘I fully understand the Lebanese people’s frustration at this extremely difficult time. The explosion earlier this week has placed extra pressure on a country that is already facing enormous challenges,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
Norway, along with several other countries, announced that it would increase its financial support to Lebanon to meet the new humanitarian needs. Norway’s total contribution to the Beirut crisis is now NOK 70 million. This includes the NOK 25 million pledged by the Minister of Foreign Affairs the day after the explosion. In recent years, Norway has provided substantial financial support to Lebanon. Prior to this latest crisis, Norway had allocated approximately NOK 470 million in aid to Lebanon in 2020.
A number of other countries pledged to provide significant sums to address the crisis, and the conference provided a good opportunity to coordinate the response. Norway was one of the countries that highlighted the need for continued political and economic reform in Lebanon, including efforts to fight corruption. The cause of the explosion was also a topic of discussion at the conference, and several countries emphasised the need for an independent enquiry.
Lebanon needs assistance in the form of medical supplies to treat those injured in the explosion. There is also a pressing need for food aid and shelter for the many people left homeless by the blast. The situation is critical, in part due to the fact that large quantities of grain, other foodstuffs and medical equipment were also stored at Beirut Port. Norway will be contributing 40 tonnes of medical supplies and is about to enter into an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide NOK 40 million to ensure the delivery of much-needed food aid to affected families and individuals. Norway will also use its established partnerships with Norwegian NGOs to facilitate the use of flexible funding to support the relief efforts in Lebanon. Relevant partners in this context include Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children Norway, which will then be able to increase their efforts in Lebanon. Other organisations are also considering doing the same.
The situation remains complex and chaotic. However, relief efforts are already well underway, despite the fact that many relief organisations were also affected by the explosion. The Lebanese people have shown a great capacity to pull together in the aftermath of the disaster.
‘The international community stands united in in its efforts to support Lebanon in dealing with this difficult crisis,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide. ‘It is crucial that everyone joins forces in a collective effort to help those affected and start the rebuilding process. The scale of need is enormous. I urge everyone involved to cooperate in addressing the major challenges that lie ahead. I discussed this with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe earlier this week,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.