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European Commission mobilizes 33-mln euro for Lebanon

BRUSSELS, Aug 6 (KUNA) -- The European Commission Thursday announced that it was mobilizing over 33 million euro (USD 39 million) for first emergency needs, medical support and equipment, as well as protection of critical infrastructure for Lebanon.
The EU's executive body said in a statement that it would consider further support depending on the on-going humanitarian needs assessment in Lebanon.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed this in a phone conversation today with Hassan Diab, Prime Minister of Lebanon.
They also discussed the longer-term support the EU can provide to help the country's reconstruction process.
Von der Leyen highlighted the possible mobilization of experts and equipment to help assess the extent of damage and handle hazardous substances like asbestos and other chemicals.
This can be important for civilian structures but also for the rehabilitation of the Beirut Port, noted the statement.
Von der Leyen said the EU is ready to explore how to boost EU-Lebanon trade relations in this challenging time, in particular in the form of further preferential trade and customs facilitation.
She also offered the EU's support to carry out a full needs assessment for the city's reconstruction and the recovery of the country, as well as support in the discussions with International Financial Institutions, which could help unlock further economic support.
She expressed the EU's condolences and support to the people of Lebanon in the face of the devastating catastrophe that has hit the city of Beirut and the country as a whole.
Von der Leyen stressed that the EU attaches great importance to the unity and stability of Lebanon, which are even more important today, both internally and for the region.
She emphasized that this tragic moment for Lebanon should be the occasion to unite all political forces around a national effort to respond to the many challenges the country was facing.
The EU will stand by Lebanon in this endeavor, stressed the statement.
The EU is already deploying over 100 highly trained search-and-rescue firefighters, with vehicles, dogs and emergency medical equipment, including through the Lebanese Red Cross in Lebanon. (end) nk.gta