SEATTLE, Washington — French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged other world leaders to come together to support Lebanon in the wake of the devastating explosion on August 4. He made these remarks at a donor conference tasked with providing relief to the furloughed city of Beirut. Alongside the aftermath of the explosion, Lebanon is dealing with massive economic hardships, a political crisis and the effects of COVID-19. The impact of Macron’s call to action has been substantial as it has helped to spread awareness of Lebanon’s plight. The resulting increased awareness has brought on the further mobilization of aid and relief delivery to the disaster area.
Poverty in Lebanon
Macron emphasized the importance of pooling resources in order to adequately help Beirut. He also pointed out that Lebanon needs extensive political and economic reforms. In Lebanon, 1.2 million people live in poverty. Of those living in poverty, 250,000 live in extreme poverty, or on less than around $5 a day. Since 2011, 200,000 households have fallen into poverty, and 72% of households live on less than $450 a month.
Various political and socio-economic reasons are to blame for the poverty crisis in Lebanon. First, Lebanon has been suffering from an economic crisis stemming from an increasingly devalued currency and the pandemic. On top of that, it has also been suffering from shouldering the burden from the Syrian conflict.
Macron has been providing medical supplies and financial aid to Beirut directly through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local groups, rather than through the government. He has proven his allyship to Lebanon by visiting the capital and offering condolences before any Lebanese official did. Furthermore, he has called out President Michael Aoun and other government officials for their mismanagement that caused the current situation. During his stay, Macron was met with cheers and applause from various citizens and journalists who praised his honesty as he talked with officials and ordered an investigation into the nature of the explosion.
Lebanon has also gone through an age of political reckoning. Much of the relief is being donated through local channels due to the corrupt and fragile state of the government. Macron proposed that Lebanese officials meet the demands of the people so that other countries can properly support Lebanon.
Organizations Working to Aid Lebanon
Alongside the French President’s efforts, there are numerous relief organizations working to support Lebanon from the ground. For instance, the Lebanese Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that is directing relief efforts towards those affected by the explosion. Other organizations like the Lebanese Food Bank have focused on providing access to food for vulnerable citizens. Additionally, CARE and Project Hope are nonprofits that have been working to distribute supplies and first responders to Lebanon.
President Macron’s efforts to help the Lebanese people in the midst of the explosion demonstrates how political leaders can be a part of sweeping change. During the summit of 15 other world leaders, Macron remarked that Lebanon needs change to rebuild. In showing his solidarity with the Lebanese people, Macron has proven himself to be a valuable asset in the ongoing battle between the citizens and the corrupt government.
– Xenia Gonikberg