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Lebanese-European Contacts to Secure Virus Aid

Lebanese-European Contacts to Secure Virus Aid

Wednesday, 1 April, 2020 - 08:00
A member of Lebanese security checks a visitor's temperature at the entrance of the governmental serail in the southern city of Sidon. (AFP)
Beirut - Khalil Fleihan

Western countries and international organizations appeared less enthused to meet Lebanon’s appeal for aid to help it fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“Circulars that have been sent to Lebanese embassies and consulates have made no mention of any medical equipment,” a Lebanese diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said France was the only European country that responded to Lebanon’s request and sent urgent medical aid. Spain came second after proposing to place an aid plan for neighboring states, specifically Lebanon, the source explained.

He noted that late last week, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez addressed this issue with her Lebanese counterpart Nassif Hitti. She informed him about her government’s proposal to ask EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi to draft an expanded aid program for neighboring countries.

The source said Hitti had already discussed EU aid to Lebanon with Varhelyi. They agreed that Hitti would send him a list of aid Lebanon needs and he will in turn make sure that they are provided by the EU.

The source spoke of shortcomings on the Lebanese authorities’ end in listing the needs of various hospitals.

Another source said authorities have also failed to contact the International Monetary Fund to inform them about the funds it needs. IMF experts have criticized Lebanon for making do with emergency funds, but failing to submit an official request.

Last week, IMF officials said they are in discussions with Lebanese authorities who have inquired about Lebanon’s eligibility to receive funds from the $50 billion in emergency funding made available by the IMF earlier this month.

Lebanon has requested technical assistance from the IMF in the past but not any broader financial aid that would typically come with conditions.

The inquiry about targeted aid to help respond to the coronavirus is separate from that process, the IMF officials said.

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