Lebanon‘s Disaster: EU Coordinates ‘Urgent Deployment’ of Rescuers to Beirut

Written by | Thursday, August 6th, 2020

The European Union said yesterday (5 August) it coordinating the „urgent deployment of over a 100 highly trained firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and equipment, specialised in search and rescue in urban contexts,” to Beirut to look for any survivors trapped in rubble after the massive blast that struck the city. “They will work with the Lebanese authorities to save lives on the ground,” European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement. This announcement came as Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, is waking up today (6 August) to three consecutive days of national mourning after a major explosion ripped through a port two days ago, wreaking a terrible toll. The blasts – blamed by the Lebanese prime minister on the storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertiliser, in a portside warehouse – killed at least 135 people and injured some 5,000 more
Lebanese authorities requested help from the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, created in 2001, which enables the bloc to coordinate aid efforts to respond to emergency situations around the world. Lenarcic said the Netherlands, Greece and the Czech Republic have already committed to the operation, while Germany, France and Poland were offering assistance, calling it “an immediate first step”. France’s President, Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Lebanon today, Germany has sent dozens of search and rescue specialists to find survivors trapped beneath rubble following the explosion, while the World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged to send trauma and surgical kits from Dubai.
Finding lodgings for people affected by the disaster is also proving a challenge after the blast decimated a chunk of the city center. And while about 200,000 to 250,000 people are estimated to have become homeless due to the explosion, many members of the Lebanese diaspora, standing perhaps at nearly three times the size of the tiny country’s population of five million, are also helping their compatriots in Beirut individually or have started online fundraisers. For example, UK-based Lebanese come together for a vigil held at Kensington gardens in central London to honour the victims of the Beirut blast Lebanese expats that include hundreds of thousands living all across Europe also usually visit home every summer, injecting much-needed cash into the economy, though the diaspora this year has largely been absent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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