Canada is responding to Lebanon’s urgent appeal for aid after the devastating explosion that took the lives of at least 135 people in Beirut.
Pledging a total of $5 million in humanitarian aid for Lebanon, the Canadian government will allocate an initial $1.5 of the contribution to the Lebanese Red Cross to provide emergency medical services, shelter, and food for those affected by the blast.
Interestingly, the aid will not go directly to the Lebanese government, noted International Development Minister Karina Gould in a Thursday press conference.
Instead, the funds will go to trusted humanitarian organizations.
“We are in contact with the Lebanese government but, at this time, no direct aid is planned from Ottawa to the Lebanese government,” Minister Gould said.
The Canadian official, who declared that Canada is “extraordinarily preoccupied” with Lebanon’s fiscal situation, stressed that financial aid must come with “significant fiscal and political reforms” to ensure that it goes to the benefit of the lives of the Lebanese people.
Though Canada is willing to increase its financial contribution in the coming days and weeks, i.e. as the scale of the damage becomes clearer, saving lives is currently the immediate priority, as Gould explained.
Also on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement in which he said that Canadians are “shocked and deeply saddened” by the Beirut Port explosion.