ROME: Italy’s government pledged on Friday to assist Lebanon after two explosions in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, earlier this week caused widespread damage, leaving more than 150 people dead and thousands injured.
One of the victims of the blasts was a 92-year-old Italian woman, and two Italian soldiers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon were wounded.
In a telephone call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed his country’s “deepest condolences” and offered his “unconditional support” to Lebanon.
Conte said Italy had already arranged to send “personnel and material” and was “ready to provide any further assistance requested.”
A statement from Conte’s office said the two prime ministers agreed to stay in close contact.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that a flight carrying 8.5 tons of medical supplies had been sent to Lebanon and more aid would follow if required, promising his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Whebe: “Italy will keep on helping Lebanon. The Lebanese people will not be left alone in this hardship.
“After such a tragedy the international community must react promptly and give help. Italy and Lebanon are on the same side,” he added.
Speaking to Italian TV news channel TG5, Di Maio said: “What happened in Lebanon is a tragedy. To us Italians, Lebanon is like a second home and helping that country means to help stabilizing it. The entire Mediterranean will benefit from the stabilization of Lebanon.”
Two Italian Air Force flights landed in Beirut this week, the first one carrying a team of 22 experts in the fields of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) and structural stability of buildings, and the second loaded with the 8.5 tons of health supplies (surgical and trauma kits) donated to the Lebanese Armed Forces, to benefit Lebanese public hospitals.
In terms of humanitarian aid, the Agency for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is finalizing emergency contributions of 700,000 Euros ($823,000) to the Lebanese Red Cross, $1.76 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross, $1.18 million to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and $2.35 million for projects implemented by Italian NGOs.
The Italian government also said it is ready to respond to any appeals launched by the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the near future.
Pope Francis has also donated just under $300,000 from the Vatican to “support the needs of the Lebanese church in (this) time of great difficulty and suffering.”