EU mobilises additional €100 million in response to the Beirut port explosion in Lebanon

New Delhi: The EU has adopted an additional support package of close to €100 million to help Lebanon address the consequences of the 4 August 2020 explosion at the port of Beirut and support a recovery from the catastrophe focused on meeting the population’s needs.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented: “The EU has acted quickly to support the population affected by the blast, which remains under investigation. People in Beirut still strongly feel the consequences of the explosion, that came in addition to political and socio-economic crisis as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Our significant additional funds will focus on a recovery for the people, including access to basic services and social protection. This effort is not provided in a vacuum. The EU expects the swift formation of a Government that will take forward the essential reforms that must underpin a broader recovery.”

The €100 million assistance package consists of:

– €34 million from the 2020 bilateral funding in Lebanon under the European Neighbourhood Instrument will be reoriented to improve governance and accountability, continue assisting civil society, and restore access to jobs and economic opportunities. It will also support restoring and improving basic services and physical infrastructure damaged by the explosion in the context of implementing the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) in Lebanon.

– €64.5 million in new funding channelled via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis will support the most vulnerable Lebanese and refugee communities affected by the explosion, including in health, social assistance and support to micro and small enterprises.

This support was advanced by the High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, and by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the Conference in Support of the Lebanese People convened by France and the United Nations that took place on 2 December.

The EU has been at the forefront of efforts to provide emergency support to Lebanon following the 4 August 2020 explosion. The EU mobilised €70 million for immediate needs, medical support and equipment, as well as the protection of critical infrastructure.

Four months after this man-made disaster, urgent needs still need addressing among the most affected Lebanese population, migrants and refugees. Based on the joint Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA), the EU, the World Bank Group and the United Nations jointly developed a people-centred response plan to address these needs in the aftermath of the blast and set the groundwork for sustainable recovery. The Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) was launched on 4 December in Beirut and bridges the immediate humanitarian assistance with medium-term recovery and reconstruction efforts, setting out priorities and sequenced steps for an 18 months period. EU support beyond people-centred recovery, requires key reforms in the fields of anti-corruption, public procurement and judicial independence, as well as in the electricity sector.

The extension of the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis for one final year, until 14 December 2021, will enable the EU, amongst other, to mobilise the new €64.5 million Beirut port blast response package. The extension ensures a smooth transition to the next Multiannual Financial Framework and demonstrates the EU’s continuing solidarity with Lebanon as a major refugee hosting country.