EU Commission ready to help Lebanon with preferential trade

Members of a Dutch Urban search and rescue team (USAR) board the plane at Eindhoven Air Base, The Netherlands, 05 August 2020. The Netherlands is sending the team to Beirut to help find people who are missing after Tuesday's explosions. [ROB ENGELAAR/EPA]

The European Commission is ready to help Lebanon with preferential trade and customs backing, president Ursula Von der Leyen said on Thursday (6 August) after a phone call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

The offer from EU’s chief executive came after Tuesday’s blast which killed at least 137 people and injured 5,000, flattened Beirut port and devastated the city.

“The Commission stood ready to explore how to boost our trade relations in this challenging time, in particular in the form of further preferential trade and customs facilitation,” von der Leyen said in a statement.

She also offered the EU’s help in assessing Beirut’s reconstruction and Lebanon’s recovery, as well as support in discussions with international financial institutions to unlock further economic aid.

The 27-country bloc has deployed more than 100 firefighters and 150 rescue workers, a military vessel for medical evacuation and activated its Copernicus Satellite mapping system to help assess the damage, as well as unlocked €33 million worth aid package.

A dozen of member states have also announced they will provide medical and protective equipment.

'Urgent deployment' of rescuers to Beirut: EU

The European Union said Wednesday (5 August)  it would rush rescuers, search dogs and equipment to Beirut to look for any survivors trapped in rubble after the massive blast that struck the city.

Macron in Beirut

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beirut on Thursday at the start of an official visit following the warehouse explosion. He was greeted on the tarmac by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun.

Macron, who walked the street of Beirut amid citizens claiming for help from the French president, said Lebanon was facing a political and economic crisis, and that it would continue to suffer unless it enacted reforms.

“Beyond the blast, we know the crisis here is serious, it involves the historic responsibility of leaders in place,” Macron told reporters. “We can’t do without telling each other some home truths,” he added. “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink,” he added.

In Beirut, Macron says Lebanese leaders need to hear 'home truths'

Lebanon mourned on Thursday (6 August) the victims of the most powerful blast to hit a country that has already been struck down by an economic crisis, as rescuers searched for those missing since the explosion flattened Beirut port and devastated the city.

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