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Facebook donates $2.1 million relief fund to crisis-hit Lebanon following Beirut blast

The social networking giant joined global efforts to help Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 August, 2020

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A $2.1 million relief and recovery fund will be sent to Lebanon from Facebook, the social networking giant confirmed on Wednesday.
Facebook has announced plans to send financial assistance to crisis-hit Lebanon as part of global efforts to help the country after a gigantic blast at Beirut port last week caused billions in damage. 

The social networking giant said it would contribute $2.1 million toward Lebanon’s relief and recovery, half of which was raised through match funding initiative for a Facebook fundraiser.

“Let’s support the people of Lebanon who are in crisis after last week’s devastating explosion in Beirut,” Facebook App said in a post on the platform.

“Together, we can do more to help,” the networking app said, urging users to donate to the fund.

The move came as Lebanon’s health ministry said the monster explosion at Beirut port killed 171, injured 6,500 and left 300,00 people temporarily homeless.

On Wednesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the blast caused more than $15 billion in damages.

"Preliminary estimates of the losses suffered following the port explosion top 15 billion dollars," he was quoted as telling Spain's King Felipe in a phone call, in a message on the presidency's Twitter account.

The explosion, Lebanon's worst peacetime disaster, caused devastation across Beirut and is widely seen as a direct consequence of state incompetence and corruption.

Documents seen by AFP reveal that relevant officials at every echelon of the state were aware of the danger posed by the large pile of ammonium nitrate stored for years in a port warehouse until it blew up.

Angry protesters have been demonstrating for days to demand the wholesale ouster of a ruling political elite they see as directly responsible for the port tragedy.

Mock gallows and nooses have become the symbols of the new wave of protests, which have rekindled a revolutionary street movement that had lost steam in recent months amid economic hardship and the coronavirus pandemic.

Under intense domestic and foreign pressure, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his government's resignation on Monday. Many citizens bitterly laughed off his efforts to cast himself as a champion of the fight against corruption.

Some saw it as a victory and a sign that continued pressure could force change in a country which has been ruled by the same cartel of former warlords and their relatives since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Others feared that the resignation of Diab's government could herald the return of old faces, such as former prime minister Saad Hariri.

According to the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper, Nawaf Salam, a former judge at the International Court of Justice, is the favoured successor of some of Lebanon's top foreign partners, including France.

Read more: Impact Lebanon: How a former WhatsApp group evolved into leading the global appeal for Beirut

However Salam is not an acceptable choice for the Muslim Shiite movement Hezbollah, which wields most power in Lebanon, the paper said.

A return of Saad Hariri, who resigned under pressure from the street late last year, would be a red rag to a bull for the rejuvenated protest camp.

Parliament was due to convene on Thursday to approve the state of emergency, which would give security forces heightened powers to curb the street demonstrations.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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