The Edition


EU chief Michel heading to Beirut on Saturday

07 August 2020, MVT 20:03
A picture shows destruction at Beirut port on August 5, 2020 in the aftermath of a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital. - Rescuers searched for survivors in Beirut after a cataclysmic explosion at the port sowed devastation across entire neighbourhoods, killing more than 100 people, wounding thousands and plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis. The blast, which appeared to have been caused by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate left unsecured in a warehouse, was felt as far away as Cyprus, some 150 miles (240 kilometres) to the northwest. (Photo by PATRICK BAZ / AFP)
07 August 2020, MVT 20:03

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, heads to Beirut on Saturday, a day ahead of a major donors conference to raise funds for the blast-damaged Lebanese capital.

"Shocked and saddened, we stand with all those affected and will provide help," Michel tweeted, announcing meetings with President Michel Aoun, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Michel's message was also tweeted in Arabic.

After his trip, Michel -- whose council represents the 27 EU leaders -- will take part in a videoconference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron to gather support for rescue operations.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said Michel and the president of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had written to the 27 member states urging them to step up support for Lebanon.

At Sunday's videoconference, the EU executive will be represented by the commissioner for crisis management and humanitarian aid, Janez Lenarcic.

"We are working on an estimate of humanitarian needs and we need as much information as possible," Mamer said.

"We are in an emergency phase. This is not a conference for reconstruction. That will take place at a later stage," he warned.

The European Commission says it has coordinated the dispatch of 300 rescue experts to Beirut and has made available 33 million euros ($39 million) for initial emergency needs, including medical aid.

Brussels, Belgium | AFP