Macron tells Lebanon ‘you are not alone’ during visit to traumatized Beirut

Macron tells Lebanon ‘you are not alone’ during visit to traumatized Beirut
Macron, surrounded by Lebanese servicemen, visits the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 06 August 2020

Macron tells Lebanon ‘you are not alone’ during visit to traumatized Beirut

Macron tells Lebanon ‘you are not alone’ during visit to traumatized Beirut
  • Macron meets crowds of distraught Lebanese as anger intensifies at political elite
  • Crowds vent their fury, shouting 'terrorist' leadership and chanting revolution

BEIRUT: French President Emmanuel Macron visited shell-shocked Beirut Thursday, pledging support and urging change after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital in a disaster that has sparked grief and fury.
“Lebanon is not alone,” he tweeted on arrival before pledging Paris would coordinate international relief efforts after the colossal blast killed at least 137 people, wounded thousands and caused billions of dollars in damage.
But Macron also warned that Lebanon — already mired in a deep economic crisis, in desperate need of a bailout and hit by political turmoil — would “continue to sink” unless it implements urgent reforms.




Macron visiting the Gemayzeh neighborhood, which suffered extensive damage from the explosion. (AP photo)

Public anger is on the boil over the blast caused by a massive pile of ammonium nitrate that had for years lain in a ramshackle portside warehouse — proof to many Lebanese of the deep rot at the core of their state system.
Macron visited Beirut’s harborside blast zone, now a wasteland of blackened ruins, rubble and charred debris where a 140 meter wide crater has filled with sea water.
As Macron inspected a devastated pharmacy, angry crowds outside vented their fury at their “terrorist” leadership, shouting “revolution” and “the people want an end to the regime!“

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)


Macron’s visit to the small Mediterranean country, France’s Middle East protege and former colonial-era protectorate, was the first by a foreign head of state since Tuesday’s unprecedented tragedy.
Two days on, Lebanon was still reeling from a blast so huge it was felt in neighboring countries, its mushroom-shaped cloud drawing comparisons with the Hiroshima atom bomb.
“Apocalypse,” “Armageddon” — Lebanese were lost for words to describe the impact of the blast, which dwarfed anything the country had experienced in its violence-plagued history.
The deadly explosion left dozens more missing and a staggering 5,000 people wounded, many by flying shards of glass as windows imploded.

 

 

The death toll was expected to rise as rescue workers keep digging through the rubble.
Offering a glimmer of hope amid the carnage, a French rescuer said there was a “good chance of finding... people alive,” especially a group believed to be trapped in a room under the rubble.
“We are looking for seven or eight missing people, who could be stuck in a control room buried by the explosion,” the colonel told Macron as he surveyed the site.
Paris has spearheaded international mobilization in support of Lebanon, where flights carrying medical aid, field hospitals, rescue experts and tracking dogs have arrived since Wednesday.




Macron visits the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut. (Reuters)

Beirut’s governor estimated up to 300,000 people have been left temporarily homeless by the destruction, which he said would cost the debt-ridden country in excess of three billion dollars.
According to several officials, the explosion was caused by a fire igniting 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer stored for years in the warehouse.
Even as they counted their dead and cleaned up the streets, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence.
“We can’t bear more than this. This is it. The whole system has got to go,” said 30-year-old Mohammad Suyur as he picked up broken glass in Mar Mikhail, one of the worst-hit city districts.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab and President Michel Aoun have promised to put the culprits behind bars, but trust in institutions is low and few on Beirut’s streets held out hope for an impartial inquiry.
The disaster could reignite a cross-sectarian protest movement that erupted last October and had looked briefly like it could topple what activists consider a hereditary kleptocracy.
The euphoria had faded amid grinding economic hardship and the coronavirus pandemic. But since the disaster, social media is once more rife with calls to kick out Lebanon’s widely reviled leaders.
“Lebanon’s political class should be on guard in the weeks ahead,” Faysal Itani of think-tank the Center for Global Policy wrote in The New York Times.
“Shock will inevitably turn to anger.”




 Macron walks with Lebanese President Michel Aoun upon his arrival at Beirut airport. (AFP)

Human Rights Watch supported mounting calls for an international probe into the disaster.
“An independent investigation with international experts is the best guarantee that victims of the explosion will get the justice they deserve,” the watchdog said.
In France, prosecutors have opened a probe into the blast over injuries suffered by 21 French citizens.
Amid the gloom and fury, the aftermath of the terrible explosion has also yielded countless uplifting examples of spontaneous solidarity.
Business owners swiftly took to social media, posting offers to repair doors, paint damaged walls or replace shattered windows for free.
Much of the cleanup has been handled by volunteers in improvised working groups who bring their own equipment and organize online appeals for help.
“We’re sending people into the damaged homes of the elderly and handicapped to help them find a home for tonight,” said Husam Abu Nasr, a 30-year-old volunteer.
“We don’t have a state to take these steps, so we took matters into our own hands.”


UAE records highest number of COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

UAE records highest number of COVID-19 cases since pandemic began
Updated 19 January 2021

UAE records highest number of COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

UAE records highest number of COVID-19 cases since pandemic began
  • UAE says 2,990 have recovered over the past 24 hours
  • Kuwait records 467 cases and 1 death, Oman reports 221 cases and 2 deaths

DUBAI: The UAE on Monday recorded 3,471 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count since the start of the pandemic, and six deaths.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said the total number of cases since the pandemic began had reached 256,732, while the death toll rose to 751.
Some 2,990 people had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours. The total number of recoveries is 228,364.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources issued a circular to all ministries and federal entities amending the procedures for dealing with the pandemic to be implemented from Sunday. All government employees, as well as outsourced or public service companies, are required to take a PCR test every seven days, if they have not received two doses of the vaccine.
As part of its national campaign to inoculate 50 percent of the population by April, the UAE said it has vaccinated 1.972 million people, with almost 90,000 in the last 24 hours.
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said it is organizing a series of virtual seminars aimed at raising awareness on the importance of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, especially for the priority groups.

Dr. Hind Al-Awadi, head of DHA’s Health Promotion and Education Department, said the campaign targets employees of government departments and institutions in Dubai to explain the importance of the vaccine, the procedure, its symptoms and its role in strengthening the body’s immunity, especially for those suffering from chronic diseases.
Dubai Municipality announced it had intensified its inspection campaigns and said it closed down 18 businesses and issued 18 fines and 45 warnings to others for failing to adhere to anti-COVID-19 measures.
The Department of Social Services in Sharjah said it received more than 300 requests to provide home vaccinations for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and their families since the initiative began on Saturday.
“Starting from the beginning of this week, 12 mobile units started visiting the homes of senior citizens and providing vaccinations for COVID-19, the department’s director Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mayel, said.

He added that they are working “to increase the number of mobile units in the coming weeks to ensure that the largest number of people are vaccinated.”
Ajman Medical District launched a new center to administer the vaccine, with a large turnout on the first day of opening.
Hamad Tarim Al-Shamsi, the district’s director, said: “Our health plans are based on making medical services accessible to all members of society and we are currently focusing on providing services, examinations and vaccines to the most needy groups, especially senior citizens and people with disabilities, and medical teams have been formed to communicate with them in their homes.”
Elsewhere, Kuwait reported 467 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number to 158,244. The death toll rose to 948 after one coronavirus-related death was reported in the previous 24 hours.

Oman’s health ministry confirmed 221 new cases and two deaths, bringing the totals to 132,011 and 1,514, respectively.

In Bahrain, no deaths were reported, keeping the death toll to 360, while 333 new infected cases were confirmed.