Saudi Arabia, France to bypass Lebanese state and 'aid people directly'

Saudi Arabia, France to bypass Lebanese state and 'aid people directly'
2 min read
01 March, 2022
Saudi Arabia and France have agreed to support Lebanese NGOs with millions of dollars in aid as the country suffers from an unprecedented financial and economic crisis
Lebanon's healthcare sector has been badly hit by the financial crisis [Getty- archive]

Saudi Arabia and France agreed on Monday to fund several humanitarian projects in Lebanon as the country continues to reel from its worst-ever economic depression.

The two countries will establish a joint mechanism to finance and support the activities of several non-governmental organisations in Lebanon, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

The Saudi aid is reported to amount to $36 million.

Financial support will include hospitals and primary health care centres which have been some of the worst affected by the crisis.

The economic crash has seen the Lebanese lira lose about 90 percent of its value over the past two years hitting the poor and middle classes hardest.

Support will also go to basic educational facilities, as well as organisations responsible for distributing food and milk to children in the most vulnerable communities.

The agreement came after talks were held by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Le Drian was scheduled to visit Beirut on 3 and 4 March but delayed his trip due to the situation in Ukraine, a French diplomatic source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s sister site.

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Lebanon's ties with Saudi Arabia hit rock bottom last year over what Riyadh said was the growing political influence of Iran-allied Hezbollah in the country.

The crisis threatened to cut Lebanon off from Gulf aid and trade.

Riyadh had been a major donor to Beirut over the past decades and allies with many of its western-backed politicians.

It is not clear whether Saudi Arabia seeks to re-enter Lebanon through its initiative with France, or if the initiative is solely for humanitarian purposes.

In January, Kuwait presented to the Lebanese government a list of terms Gulf states demanded to thaw relations, including implementing UN Resolutions which would see Hezbollah give up its arsenal.