Channel 1 Los Angeles
8/11/2020 New York N.Y.
At a virtual briefing on Monday, high-level UN officials detailed how the situation is unfolding on the ground and what the Organization is doing to assist.
“The legendary strength of the Lebanese people now faces an additional test”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Almost a week after the blast produced “a colossal toxic cloud that was visible for miles”, he lamented that “many people remain missing”.
In an instant, the explosion “flattened vital infrastructure and shattered windows near and far”, he stated. “Surrounding neighborhoods were levelled. Many thousands are now homeless”.
And three hospitals were left inoperable, while two others sustained substantial damage. “The shock waves were felt across the city – and indeed across the Mediterranean”, the UN chief said, adding that “the economic, social and other reverberations” will continue for some time.
According to news reports, Lebanon’s Prime Minister took to national television late on Monday, to announce his resignation along with that of the Government, citing endemic political corruption.
A difficult time
Against the backdrop of economic hardship, COVID-19 and multiple other challenges, Mr. Guterres lauded the Lebanese people for remaining “generous hosts” to large Palestine and Syrian refugee communities.
In the past few days, the UN chief said he’d seen “that spirit yet again”, as neighbours help neighbours clear the streets of broken glass, “opening their homes to those who have lost theirs.”
“I call for robust international support for all people in need in Lebanon, especially women and girls who are most vulnerable in times of crisis”, he underscored.
And while thanking those countries that are already providing “tangible financial, material and specialized assistance”, he urged donors to give “speedily and generously”.
Listen to the people
At a time of both sorrow and prolonged frustration, the UN chief maintained that “the anger of the Lebanese people is palpable” and “their voices must be heard”.
He called for a “credible and transparent investigation” to determine the exact cause of the explosion and bring about the accountability “demanded by the Lebanese people”. He said long-term political reform was also needed.
Noting that profound sense of loss and disbelief, he noted that Lebanon was resilient. “Lebanon has immense spirit and will”, he said, while also underscoring that it is not alone.