Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (4 August) to mark the first anniversary of the catastrophic explosion in the port of Beirut:
One year after the explosion in the port of Beirut, the magnitude of the destruction remains devastating and what caused this disaster still has not been established. At the time, Germany reacted swiftly and provided 24 million euro in immediate and emergency aid. What is more, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief directly began helping in the search for people trapped under the rubble. For many of those affected, however, the situation on the ground has hardly improved.
Until now there has been no progress made towards forming a government or initiating the reforms that are urgently needed. This is irresponsible in view of the dramatically deteriorating economic situation. People no longer know how they can feed their families. I therefore believe it is right and necessary that we in the European Union adopted a framework for targeted sanctions to address the situation in Lebanon and to keep up the pressure on political Leaders.
However, we are not abandoning those in Lebanon suffering from the current situation. Germany is the second largest bilateral donor and will remain engaged, especially in the spheres of humanitarian assistance, basic social services and support for civil society. We will also pledge more funding for these areas at today’s conference on Lebanon. Irrespective of all the international assistance for people in the country, however, it remains clear that the rapidly deteriorating situation can only be resolved by the relevant political leaders in Lebanon. They must act quickly now. Any further assistance – beyond emergency aid and support for reforms – hinges on the formation of a functioning, legitimate government and a credible reform programme.
Especially since the start of the Syrian refugee crisis, Germany has been actively supporting the people of Lebanon and, having made available a total of 466 million euro, has been one of the largest donors (humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, stabilisation, cultural promotion and capacity-building) since the explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. On top of this, Germany is also involved in the UN mission UNIFIL. Humanitarian assistance is a key focus. Since 2012, Germany has already provided 825 million euro in humanitarian assistance. In particular, these funds have benefited Syrian refugees but they have also been used to help the Lebanese who are in need. What is more, Lebanon is one of the four priority countries in the newly established Ta’ziz Partnership for Democracy, which focuses on strengthening the rule of law, civil society structures and political participation. However, there are strict conditions attached to financial aid for Lebanon. This means that support not used for humanitarian assistance or basic social services will not be paid out until there is again an effective Lebanese Government which carries out political and economic reforms in line with the pledges it has given to its own population and the international community. For this is the only way to improve the lives of Lebanese people on a durable Basis.