Monday, September 21, 2020
banner
Home /  World  /  Macron calls for urgent change in Lebanon on his visit

Macron calls for urgent change in Lebanon on his visit

Macron calls for urgent change in Lebanon on his visit

DPA
Beirut
Lebanon needs to make key reforms to its electricity, banking, and customs sectors immediately “in an international framework,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
Macron has warned that without reform and action against corruption, the country could start running out of fuel and food within months “and that will be the fault of those who refuse to act today.”
The French president said he was “frank, direct and sincere” in meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and other political leaders and will return on September 1 “to review progress together.”
“There will be a before and an after August 4,” Macron said, adding that he sees hope for change in the “anger of the youth and the street.”
Beirut residents used a visit from French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to vent their anger at the country’s leadership, two days after a huge explosion in the city’s port left at least 137 people dead.
The blast, believed to have been caused by the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for several years in a port warehouse, has left some 5,000 injured.
Members of the Lebanese Red Cross, army soldiers and volunteers were still searching for people listed missing under the rubble.
“I am waiting here, I am not moving. My brother works inside the port and we have not heard of him since the explosion took place,” a woman named Fatima screamed as she stood nearby.
BFMTV showed one rescue worker telling Macron that there was “good hope” of finding victims alive.
As Macron - the first foreign leader to visit since the disaster - toured the previously lively Gemmayzeh district near the port, one woman stood on her balcony shouting and crying.
“All of you are murderers,” she charged. “Where were you yesterday.
Where were you the day before? Where were you when these explosives were put at the port?”
“I know how distressed you are and I understand your fury,” Macron told bystanders in an impromptu encounter shown by French broadcaster BFMTV. “I am not here to give backing to any regime or any politician.”
Asked by one man for help to “get rid of this political class,” Macron said the Lebanese were “a sovereign people - it’s not up to me, it is up to you.”
France, the former colonial ruler of Lebanon, retains close ties to the country.
Macron earlier announced that French police and forensic teams would be heading to Lebanon to help with investigations and logistics.
One French citizen was killed in the disaster and 24 others injured, three of them seriously, according to ministers in Paris.
Germany said one of its diplomats was among those killed.
Calls are growing in Lebanon for an international investigation into the disaster.
Aid has meanwhile been pouring in from around the world. Russia has set up a field hospital in Beirut and Saudi Arabia said it is sending urgent humanitarian support through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
Twenty tons of UN supplies that cover 1,000 trauma interventions and 1,000 surgeries arrived earlier on Thursday in Beirut, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Several other countries, including Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Cyprus have also sent medical assistance.
With a team of French rescuers in place since Wednesday, Macron promised his country’s aid would go to people on the ground and not “into the hands of corruption.”

Pages