French President Emmanuel Macron and the United Nations co-hosted a virtual donors' conference Sunday to solicit international aid for Lebanon, whose capital Beirut was devastated by explosions on Tuesday that left more than 150 people dead and a quarter of a million homeless.
"We must act quickly and efficiently so that this aid goes directly to where it is needed," Macron said in his opening remarks for the UN-backed donors' conference, which was being held by video link.
Macron also called on the Lebanese government to act responsibly to safeguard the country's future.
"It is up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut," Macron said.
"We must all work together to ensure that neither violence nor chaos prevails," he added. "It is the future of Lebanon that is at stake."
The conference succeeded to raise pledges worth nearly €253 million euros for immediate humanitarian relief on Sunday, Macron’s office said.
France has so far committed 55 security personnel and 6 tons of health equipment to Lebanon as well as urgent care doctors. The European Commission on Sunday added €30 million to the €33 million it pledged on Friday to finance emergency aid to Lebanon.
But some foreign governments have been wary about writing blank cheques to a government perceived by its own people to be deeply corrupt.
The blast at the Beirut port, blamed on a vast store of ammonium nitrate that was allowed to rot for years in a warehouse, killed more than 150 people and left a quarter of a million homeless.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)