UN Beirut donors' videoconference set for Sunday, France says

UN Beirut donors' videoconference set for Sunday, France says
UN Beirut donors' videoconference set for Sunday, France says

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A donors' videoconference organised by France and the UN to stump up aid for the devastated Lebanese capital Beirut will be held on Sunday, the French president's office announced on Saturday.

US President Donald had announced on Friday that he would take part, saying "everyone wants to help!"

"We will be having a conference call on Sunday with President Macron, leaders of Lebanon, and leaders from various other parts of the world," Mr Trump added.

The blast on Tuesday at Beirut's port killed more than 150 people and devastated swathes of the city.

Officials say a huge shipment of dangerous ammonium nitrate, a base chemical for fertilisers and explosives, had languished for years in a warehouse at the port and somehow caught fire, leading to the massive blast.

Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday he would seek to mobilise Arab efforts to provide support to Lebanon after the massive explosion.

Speaking after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, he also said reporters that the Cairo-based league of Arab states was ready to assist the investigation into the blast.

"We are ready to help with all our means," he said.

Turkey is ready to help rebuild the port of Beirut, which was destroyed by a massive blast on Tuesday, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said during a visit to Lebanon on Saturday.

Turkey's port of Mersin, on the Mediterranean, is ready to assist the port of Beirut, he said, without elaborating.

Beirut has received a stream of international assistance since the blast.

On Friday, relief flights from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE landed in Lebanon, following others from France, Kuwait, Qatar and Russia.

International police agency Interpol has said it will send a team of experts who are specialised in identifying victims.

The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, called for $15 million (Dh55.1m) to cover immediate health needs.

Lebanon's hospitals, already strained by rising coronavirus cases and a severe economic crisis, were heavily damaged by the blast and overwhelmed by casualties.

Two days after the explosion, Lebanese were flocking to a 20-tent Russian field hospital newly established in the capital's largest sports stadium.

The United Nations said up to 100,000 children are among the 300,000 people made homeless, including many who have been separated from their families.

With destruction from the blast engulfing half of the capital and estimated to cost more than $3 billion, world leaders, advocacy groups and Lebanese have demanded an international probe to ensure impartiality.

But Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement said on Friday the army should lead such a probe because it was "trusted" by all.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denied accusations the Shiite party had been storing arms at the port, saying: "We have nothing in the port."

Updated: August 8, 2020 01:38 PM

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