BEIRUT: Cyprus embassy to help allocate €5 mln aid pledge

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Cyprus diplomatic mission in Beirut is preparing proposals as to how the amount of €5 mln which Nicosia donated to Lebanon can be best allocated in the post-blast landscape.

Cypriot Ambassador in Beirut Panicos Kyriacou returns to Lebanon on Thursday while an apartment has been rented to temporarily house the Cyprus Embassy and ambassador’s residence that sustained extensive damage by the huge August 4 explosion.

“We will begin working on repairing the two buildings or we will find new ones in case their owners do not cooperate in order to repair them.”

President Nicos Anastasiades announced that Cyprus will donate €5 mln to cover needs that Lebanon has after the explosion.

Ambassador Kyriakou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that when the suggestions are made, they will have to be approved by the Foreign Ministry.

“We are thinking of giving this money, for example, to help hospitals in Lebanon.”

“We will come into contact with them to learn about their needs, we will also speak with the Red Cross of Lebanon and the Lebanese authorities to use the money in the best possible way to the benefit of the people.

We are at the stage of looking into this issue and I have asked the staff of the embassy to begin these contacts,” said Kyriacou.

He said the financial aid will not be handed over to the Lebanese government “but we will help projects aiming to benefit the population as a school, a hospital, a church”.

More medical equipment and medicine will also be sent from Cyprus to Lebanon as a number of NGOs and private companies continue to collect supplies.

He said that staff now work in a part of the embassy building which can be used.

He also said that no visas are currently issued by the Embassy as Lebanon is listed in category C by Cyprus, due to its COVID-19 epidemiological outlook.

As regards Lebanese people who have Cypriot passports, he said that many of them are already in Cyprus and those who stayed in Lebanon did not contact the embassy to request any help.

“Therefore, there is no Cypriot citizen who faces difficulties and has not contacted us.”

Lebanon faces a humanitarian emergency following the explosion of more than 2000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port that has added severe strain to a health system already buckling under an economic crisis, civil unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the hosting of some 1.5 million refugees in a country of 6 million people.

The blast killed at least 200 people, injured more than 6000, and left 300,000 homeless.

On August 10, the government resigned amid rising anger and protests demanding the removal of the political elite and an end to corruption, bad governance, and mismanagement.

International donors pledged €253 mln in aid at a summit arranged by France.