CAIRO: Egypt’s two largest religious institutions have sent aid planes to Lebanon after its capital was ravaged by a massive explosion of ammonium nitrate.
Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church loaded the aircraft with medicine, aid and other supplies to help the Lebanese, who are still coping with the aftermath of the Aug. 4 blast.
The aid planes are a continuation of an air bridge announced by Egypt earlier this month to provide urgent assistance for the crisis in Beirut.
The church sent its relief shipment through the Middle East Council of Churches in Lebanon. It included 12 tons of food and medical supplies, including 11,000 washable masks to reduce the severity of the spread of coronavirus, and a ton of medicine and equipment.
Father Gabi Hashem is the director of the Theological Affairs and Ecumenical Affairs Department at the Middle East Council of Churches. He represented the body when receiving the air bridge shipments and said there were not enough words to thank the Egyptian government and people.
He also said that the Coptic Church was the largest church in the Council and had an important role in it.
“Today these shipments express the depth of the relationship that binds the Egyptian and Lebanese people,” Hashem added. “On behalf of the council I thank President (Abdel Fattah) El-Sisi and Pope Tawadros, the elder father of the Middle East Council of Churches. The churches in the Council are continuously praying in order to revive hope and to rebuild the Middle East on humanitarian and spiritual foundations.”
Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Yasser Alawi said the supplies came with state directives to provide all forms of support to the people of Lebanon. He stressed that his country would not abandon its neighbor until it had overcome its ordeal.
Egypt’s Lebanon air bridge has four phases. The first included medical aid, the second included medical and food aid, the third had Egyptian doctors to support the work of medical personnel in Lebanon while the fourth phase will contribute to reconstruction efforts. This last phase will involve sending the tools and materials needed to restore the facilities that were destroyed by the explosion.
During his recent visit to Lebanon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry inspected the country’s field hospital in Beirut which has six main clinics.
Shoukry welcomed the hospital’s contribution to aid the injured and those affected by the blast.
The hospital is an hour away from the site of the explosion at the Port of Beirut.