A woman walks past a heavily damaged building in DT Beirut on August 6, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. (Photo: AFP)
The European Union announced Thursday that it had released 33 million euros ($39 million) to finance initial emergency aid for Lebanon and mobilised material resources, including an Italian hospital ship, to help relief efforts in Beirut, devastated Tuesday by two explosions.
A donor conference is also planned to mobilise additional funding for reconstruction after an assessment of what is required, said a EU source.
The release of the 33 million euros should make it possible to cover the immediate needs of the emergency services and hospitals in the capital, said the European Commission.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke by phone with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday to talk about European Union assistance.
In a letter to the 27 EU members released on Thursday evening, von der Leyen and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, called on member states to "contribute to the road to recovery that lies ahead".
"We... invite you to intensify your support to Lebanon both on the immediate needs, but also with a view to the longer-term reconstruction of the country," the leaders wrote.
"In order to ensure efficiency and swift delivery, we stand ready to ensure the synergy of the aid that you and the EU as a whole will provide to Lebanon, through a coordination mechanism that the EU institutions will put in place."
They reminded the 27 member states of the "strong partnership" between the EU and Lebanon, "a country of strategic importance which hosts the largest number of refugees per capita".
"We have a common interest in acting now to limit the fall-out of this tragedy," they said.
European countries have mobilised quickly with the Italian navy making available a ship with helicopter medical evacuation capability and medical equipment.
Italy has also mobilised 250 firefighters specialising in search and rescue, AFP has learnt from an EU source.