President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egypt calls upon the international community to exert all possible efforts to assist and support the Lebanese people in overcoming the devastating effects of the August 2020 Beirut explosion and rebuilding the city.
In his virtual speech during the Lebanon Donor Conference, which was held at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, El-Sisi reaffirmed Egypt’s full support and solidarity with the Lebanese people and stressed that it stands ready to assist Lebanon by dispatching more emergency aid.
Along with El-Sisi, US President Joe Biden, and Lebanon's own President Michel Aoun were among the participants of the virtual conference from around 40 countries and multilateral organisations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the International Monetary Fund.
“Egypt will harness its potentials to help the Lebanese people reconstruct affected areas. Thus, engineers and technicians in the fields of infrastructure rehabilitation and power station repair should be sent to Lebanon,” El-Sisi said.
Since Beirut’s devastating blast last August, Egypt has taken several steps to meet the needs of the Lebanese people and alleviate the burden on the Lebanese government by launching a sealift and tens of airlifts loaded with medical and humanitarian aid, food, and construction materials.
Additionally, an Egyptian field hospital has been constructed in Beirut to provide aid to victims of the blast.
Last week, Egypt’s Arab Contractors Company won a bid to develop Tripoli port and its facilities in a step reflecting the country’s keenness on supporting Lebanon on all levels, especially developing its ports.
The development of the port will be followed by a number of projects to enhance Egypt’s economic presence in Lebanon, especially in the fields of technology and expertise exchange, specifically in Tripoli city, according to Egypt’s Ambassador to Lebanon Yasser Elwi.
President El-Sisi mentioned how the exceptional and difficult circumstances facing the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have placed heavy burdens on many countries, particularly those that were encountering major economic challenges in the first place, including brotherly Lebanon.
He added that the provision of international support to the Lebanese people is inevitable and urgent.
“It is also important for the international community to put aside political differences, avoid the use of the Lebanese arena to settle regional disputes, and safeguard Lebanon’s sovereignty,” the Egyptian president said in the conference.
By holding this conference, Macron seeks to raise more than $350 million in aid for Lebanon, marking the anniversary of the Beirut port blast.
Lebanon is currently facing huge shortages of electricity, medicine, and basic supplies. This comes in parallel to its teetering economy, with one US dollar equating to 1,514 Lebanese pounds, leading fuel prices to increase by more than a third.
“Lebanon, which has always been a beacon of culture, art, and thought, and an important tributary of Arab creativity, is still able, with the determination of its sons, to become as thriving and unique as we have always known it to be,” El-Sisi said, addressing the Lebanese people.
El-Sisi called on loyal Lebanese patriots, regardless of their positions, to join hands and to distance their country from regional tensions and conflicts.
“I call on them to focus on strengthening Lebanese national institutions and to meet the aspirations of the Lebanese people by implementing inevitable economic reforms that cannot be postponed.”
“Thereby, Lebanon would gain the trust of international financial institutions and international support, as per the resolutions of the 2018 CEDRE Conference, which will positively affect Lebanon's efforts towards achieving stability, development, and prosperity,” he concluded.
This is the third conference organised by former colonial power France in as many years in aid of Lebanon.
The economic crisis in Lebanon is firmly connected to the political crisis extending since 2019, presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady quoted El-Sisi as saying.
President El-Sisi said that this crisis is getting more complicated by the day given the ongoing political vacuum caused by the government’s absence, which is preventing efforts to achieve the aspirations of the brotherly people of Lebanon.
El-Sisi stressed the urgent need to end the political vacuum to prevent Lebanon from slipping into a “dark tunnel.”
This requires all parties to prioritise the higher interest of the country through the quick formation of an independent national government that includes experienced and competent figures, the president said.
The formation of such a government will enable the country to face its current challenges and protect Lebanon’s sovereignty and unity, El-Sisi said.
The president called on all parties in Lebanon to focus on strengthening state institutions.
El-Sisi also said the conference sends a message to all Lebanese politicians that the international community is willing to support Lebanon once the governmental vacuum is over and once the country restores the trust of the Arab and international communities.
This progress will enable Lebanon’s transition from the stage of receiving humanitarian aid to receiving economic support and building a better future for its people, El-Sisi said.
The president mentioned Egypt’s continuous support to Lebanon to resolve the country’s political crisis through communication with the Lebanese political leadership, Rady said.
El-Sisi also mentioned the Egyptian efforts to provide strategic goods and infrastructure support to the Lebanese state to reconstruct and rehabilitate the buildings damaged by the Beirut blast.
The latest of this assistance was the arrival of an Egyptian warship to Beirut loaded with more than 300 tons of aid, El-Sisi said.
This is aside from the efforts of the Egyptian field hospital in Beirut that provides medical services to the Lebanese people on a daily basis.
Egypt has also provided coronavirus treatment drugs.