Lebanon Explosion: UK pledges £20m to aid displaced citizens


The UK has pledged a further £20m in aid to Lebanon following Tuesday’s deadly explosion in Beirut.

The support will go directly to those injured and displaced by the explosion, providing access to food and medicine as well as other urgent supplies.

The UK, which has already given £5m to the emergency relief effort, said it showed its commitment to “stand by” the Lebanese people in their hour of need.

It comes as world leaders hold a virtual meeting to co-ordinate action.

The blast in the city’s port destroyed large parts of the surrounding area, killing more than 150 people, injuring more than 5,000 and leaving more than 300,000 homeless.

In a phone call with the Lebanese president on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would “stand by the country in its hour of need”.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the UK offered £5m in emergency support, £3m of it for the British Red Cross. It is now proposing to give a further £20m to the World Food Programme, run by the United Nations.

The extra money comes after an assessment of the health situation on the ground by a team of specialist UK medics, who arrived in the city on Friday.

“The devastation we have seen in Lebanon this week has left people without homes, medical care and wondering how long it will be until the country’s food supplies run out,” International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

“Today the world is coming together to stand by the Lebanese people, and as one of the biggest donors to this crisis so far, the UK is pledging more urgent support to help all those affected by this terrible disaster.”

One British aid worker told the PA news agency that the explosion had had a “devastating” impact on the city.

“The area of affected property is massive,” Rob Davis, from Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters, said.

He and other volunteers have been trying to find survivors and evaluate the structural safety of buildings hit by the blast. He told PA that buildings more than six miles from the epicentre of the blast had been damaged.

Officials estimate the blast at the warehouse, which stored more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, caused up to £11.5bn in damage.

The UN and France are leading efforts to galvanise the international community into more action.

A meeting of world leaders to discuss the relief effort and longer-term economic support for Lebanon’s fragile economy is taking place on Sunday.