European Commission President von der Leyen spoke this morning with Hassan Diab, Prime Minister of Lebanon.
She expressed the EU's condolences and support to the people of Lebanon in the face of the devastating catastrophe that has hit the city of Beirut and the country as a whole.
The President and the Prime Minister discussed the assistance that the EU is already providing, which includes in particular:
- the deployment of over 100 highly trained search-and-rescue firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and emergency medical equipment, including through the Lebanese Red Cross;
- the offer of additional teams, in particular for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection;
- a military vessel with helicopter capacity for medical evacuation, and medical and protective equipment.
- The activation of the Copernicus Satellite mapping system to help assess the extent of the damage.
Added to these efforts, the Commission is mobilising over €33 million for first emergency needs, medical support and equipment, and protection of critical infrastructure. The Commission will consider further support depending on the on-going humanitarian needs assessment.
They also discussed the longer term support the EU can provide to help the country's reconstruction process.
The President of the Commission highlighted the possible mobilisation of experts and equipment to help assess the extent of damage and handle hazardous substances like asbestos and other chemicals. This can be important for civilian structures but also for the rehabilitation of the Beirut Port.
She highlighted that the Commission stood ready to explore how to boost our trade relations in this challenging time, in particular in the form of further preferential trade and customs facilitation.
The President also offered the EU's support to carry out a full needs assessment for the city's reconstruction and the recovery of the country, as well as support in the discussions with International Financial Institutions, which could help unlock further economic support.
The President stressed that the European Union attaches great importance to the unity and stability of Lebanon, which are all the more important today, both internally and for the region. She emphasised that this tragic moment for Lebanon should be the occasion to unite all political forces around a national effort to respond to the many challenges the country is facing. The European Union will stand by Lebanon in this endeavour.