International Conference on Support to Beirut and the Lebanese People: Speech by Peter Maurer

Already facing an economic and financial crisis, the global pandemic had stretched the country and its people to their limit. ICRC

Mr President, your Excellencies,

The tragic events that took place in Beirut have shocked us all.

This tragedy, the scale and extent of the destruction, the casualties, the displaced and the missing, is all the more tragic given the fragility of Lebanon today. Already facing an economic and financial crisis, the global pandemic had stretched the country and its people to their limit.

Mr President, I very much welcome this conference. It’s vital that we gather our collective resources to support Lebanon and its people through this latest tragedy – so that it does not become one too many.

My organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been in Lebanon for decades, through rounds of recurring conflict. We see directly the far-reaching effects of Tuesday’s blast – and the memories and fears it evokes. Since the first hours we’ve been active on the ground, working closely with the Lebanese Red Cross and local authorities and institutions to assess and respond to immediate needs. But more support is needed:

  • We’re supporting hospitals to replenish depleted medical supplies – but more is needed.
  • We’re supporting specialist centres for the many injured people who lost lower limbs in the blast – but more is needed.
  • We’ve identified significant psycho-social trauma due to the explosions – and more support is needed.
  • We’re supporting particularly vulnerable populations with food and cash assistance – but with more than 300,000 displaced, more support is needed.
  • We’re supporting the proper management and identification of human remains.
  • We’ve identified that water supply systems have been severely disrupted – support will be needed for repair.

Tens of thousands of people are in need. Speed is of the essence. The Red Cross is working hard, and we stand ready to do more, and in partnership with actors of goodwill. From our initial assessment, we project Red Cross expenditure at an additional EUR 40 million for immediate response through the end of this year.

But beyond this immediate response, what will be critical is your support over the long-term. We have seen through this crisis the essential value of investment in institutions. For our part, we are proud of our strong partnerships – with the Lebanese Red Cross of course, and as well with the Rafik Hariri University Hospital (together with Agence Française de Développement). These are institutions on the frontline of this response and we need to invest in the resilience of institutions like them for the future.

Thank you.

For more information:

Rona Halabi, ICRC Lebanon spokesperson, +961 70 153 928

Ruth Hetherington, ICRC Middle East spokesperson, Geneva, +41794473726

Source : Icrc