Biden pledges $100 million in aid to Lebanon on anniversary of Beirut blast

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President Biden said Wednesday that the United States would contribute nearly $100 million in additional humanitarian assistance as he marked the one-year anniversary of the explosion at the port of Beirut that killed and injured thousands of people.

“On this day of mourning, I send my deepest condolences to all those who were injured or lost loved ones and all those who are still struggling to recover from this trauma,” Biden said in a video released by the White House. “We also recognize that the people of Lebanon have suffered more over the past year because of avoidable political and economic crises.”

Biden said that his administration would contribute nearly $100 million in new humanitarian aid to Lebanon in addition to the $560 million provided by the U.S. over the past two years. The president went on to urge other leaders to “step up their support for the Lebanese people.”

Biden went on to demand action from Lebanon’s leaders to allow for political and economic reform.

“But no amount of outside assistance will ever be enough if Lebanon’s own leaders do not commit to do the hard but necessary work of reforming the economy and combatting corruption. It’s essential and it has to start now,” Biden said in the video message.

“If the leaders of Lebanon make that choice, the United States will be here every step of the way to support your efforts to deliver a stronger future for the people of Lebanon,” he added.

The explosion at the port of Beirut came after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire in an old warehouse. The blast killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands, causing destruction of parts of the city. The country has waded deeper into economic crisis since the blast, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Families of victims and other activists took to the streets in Beirut on Wednesday to demand accountability for the explosion a year later, according to The Associated Press. Critics say that political interference has hampered the investigation into the blast. Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have demanded an international investigation. 

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