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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Canada launches Lebanon relief fund after deadly Beirut blast

The government said it would match donations to the fund [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 August, 2020

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Canada has vowed to match donations to a Lebanon relief fund to aid the victims of the Beirut port blast, where more than 150 people died and thousands became homeless.
The Canadian government announced on Saturday the launch of a Lebanon relief fund, calling on citizens to give generously to victims of the massive explosion that killed more than 150 people and injured 6,000 in Beirut. 

"Every dollar donated by individual Canadians between August fourth and 24th will be matched by the government of Canada... up to a maximum of Can$2 million," or US$1.5 million, said International Development Minister Karina Gould at a news conference. 

The money will go to the Humanitarian Coalition, which brings together a dozen Canadian humanitarian organisations on the ground in Lebanon, she said. 

It will use its expertise to distribute the aid in areas such as water supply, sanitation, food and shelter.

"I encourage Canadians to donate to the Lebanon Matching Fund to help save lives and meet the urgent needs of the affected population," said the minister, adding it was the best way for citizens to help.

The assistance is part of the Can$5 million aid package announced earlier this week by Ottawa. 

A group of Lebanese-Canadian businessmen announced plans to raise at least $2.5 million to help the disaster-stricken population.

Tuesday's massive explosion levelled Beirut port and killed at least 158 people.

A fire at the port had ignited a large stock of ammonium nitrate, triggering an explosion that was felt as far away as Cyprus and destroyed entire neighbourhoods.

It was widely perceived as a direct consequence of corruption and incompetence, an egregious case of callousness on the part of an already reviled ruling elite.

On Sunday, Lebanon's information minister Manal Abdel Samad quit in the first government resignation since a deadly port blast.

"After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government," she said in a statement carried by local media, apologising to the Lebanese public for failing them.

Her announcement came after thousands of demonstrators descended on the city centre late on Saturday, to vent their fury at politicians they blame for Tuesday's explosion, which levelled Beirut port and killed 158 people.

Demonstrators marched through streets ravaged by the blast, gathering in the central Martyrs' Square, where a truck was on fire, as their grief gave way to anger.

As security forces fired tear gas to disperse strone-throwing demonstrators who tried to push their way toward parliament, a group led by retired Lebanese army officers stormed the foreign ministry and declared it the "headquarters of the revolution".

"We are taking over the foreign ministry as a seat of the revolution," Sami Rammah, a retired officer, announced by loudspeaker from the ministry's front steps.

"We call on all the anguished Lebanese people to take to the streets to demand the prosecution of all the corrupt," appealing to the international community to boycott the government.

Read also: Hero Lebanese firefighter Sahar Fares buried after fatal Beirut blast

The Lebanese Red Cross said it had taken 55 people from the protest to nearby hospitals and treated another 117 at the scene, without specifying who they were.

For the fourth day running, Beirut woke to the sound of broken glass being swept on the streets, its inhabitants taking stock after one of the biggest blasts of its kind in recent history.

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