BEIRUT: France and Saudi Arabia announced a joint development fund for crisis-hit Lebanon on Tuesday that will provide $76 million for support aid and relief work.
The Saudi-French Aid Fund was launched following an agreement signed by the French Agency for Development and King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action.
Walid Bukhari, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, said: “The initiative aims to support the humanitarian and relief work, and achieve stability and development in Lebanon by implementing the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”
The joint funding aims to support projects in six sectors — food safety, health, education, energy, water and interior security forces.
“A monetary contribution of $38 million will be provided by KSrelief, whereas the French party will contribute a similar sum, making the total $76 million provided by both countries to the joint fund,” said Bukhari.
He added that both sides share “a joint responsibility to maintain the stability of Lebanon and respect its sovereignty and unity, following the resolutions of the UN Security Council and relevant international and Arab resolutions.
“We fulfill our obligations toward Lebanon without discriminating against its sects and groups, based on our duty of Arab brotherhood.”
The French Embassy in Lebanon said that the French contribution aimed to support “the vulnerable people in Lebanon and respond to their most urgent needs in the sectors of health and food safety.
“A part of this support will mainly go to the Tripoli Governmental Hospital and will boost the primary healthcare services, in addition to providing emergency aid, including food for deprived groups.”
The launch of the joint fund for civil and social institutions is partly the result of the international community’s lack of trust in Lebanon’s state institutions. The country’s ruling class is still failing to approve reforms required by the international community as a precondition to helping Lebanon recover from its unprecedented economic crisis.
Approving the capital control bill and 2022 budget, amending the bank secrecy act, setting a recovery plan along with implementing structural reforms are among the requirements.
French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan agreed on Feb. 28 that their countries would provide emergency financial support for a series of humanitarian projects following a decision taken by French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Bukhari said that the Kingdom has so far provided about $2.5 billion worth of aid to Lebanese relief and humanitarian projects.
“Since its establishment, KSrelief has launched 1,940 diverse humanitarian projects in 80 countries worldwide, amounting to about $5.6 billion,” he added.
Bukhari said the Kingdom’s aid came “in continuation of the solidarity journey undertaken by the Kingdom toward the Lebanese people.
“We will also work with the international community to ensure a better future for Lebanon.”