UN chief launches plan to revitalize Beirut as ‘beating heart of Lebanon’

December 02, 2020
he psychological impacts of the Beirut explosions continue to be felt deeply by children and caregivers, long after flesh wounds have healed. — Courtesy photo
he psychological impacts of the Beirut explosions continue to be felt deeply by children and caregivers, long after flesh wounds have healed. — Courtesy photo

BEIRUT — Against the “grim background” of tragic explosions that destroyed much of central Beirut in early August, the UN chief on Wednesday offered a new multi-agency plan to help the Lebanese people move forward, following months of political gridlock.

“With the launch of the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework, prepared jointly by the World Bank, the European Union, and United Nations, we have a plan,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message to the International Conference in Support of the Lebanese People.

On Aug.4, a cache of ammonium nitrate caused a deadly blast that rocked the capital Beirut, causing devastation in a city already suffering from a growing coronavirus outbreak, political and economic turmoil.

The blast killed some 200 people, injured thousands of others, left around a quarter of a million homeless, sparked further protests towards the Government, and prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his entire cabinet.

“Through this Framework — the 3RF — we can, together, help the Lebanese people move beyond the emergency phase and onto the path for longer-term recovery and reconstruction,” Guterres assured.

France is hosting Wednesday’s video conference designed to finally unlock humanitarian aid, that has reportedly been stalled by the multiple crises afflicting Lebanon.

The new framework assesses the levels of incoming support against the continuing needs of the population — with a focus on the most vulnerable.

“We can address the recovery and reconstruction needs of Beirut, particularly of the port, as well as impacted areas and affected communities”, the top UN official stated.

“With a sustainable urban planning approach and quick socio-economic recovery action, we can start to revitalize Beirut as the beating heart of Lebanon”.

The 3RF includes essential reforms, targeted not only to facilitate recovery and reconstruction but also to address the root causes of the crisis.

“The continued engagement of non-governmental stakeholders is key”, stressed the UN chief, adding: “The voices of the people must be heard”.

Guterres underscored the importance of mobilizing more support for the urgent needs of the families and businesses impacted by the explosion; the vulnerable and poor; and the marginalized and underserved.

“We must continue, with one voice, to call the leadership of Lebanon to put aside partisan political interests and form a government that adequately protects and responds to the needs of the people”, he spelled out.

The secretary-general pledged the UN’s continued support to Lebanon and its people “toward a sustainable and long-term recovery”.

He also reiterated his appreciation to Lebanon’s many partners, including world leaders, international humanitarian organizations, and key multilateral and regional financial institutions, “for their partnership in this endeavor”. — UN news

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