07 Aug Cyprus Stands by Lebanon
Cyprus has started to provide assistance to the government and people of Lebanon – including search and rescue team, medical assistance and equipment, humanitarian aid and supplies – following the two explosions which shook Lebanon at Beirut’s port, on Tuesday, 4th August 2020 (https://www.stockwatch.com.cy/en/article/genika/cyprus-president-expresses-condolences-lebanon).
The President of Lebanon, Mr. Michel Aoun, stated that the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, that caused the explosions, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, after it was seized (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/05/initial-investigations-point-to-negligence-as-cause-of-beirut-blast-source-says/).
He continued and stated that the government was “determined to investigate and expose what happened as soon as possible, to hold the responsible and the negligent accountable”.
The explosions – that as reported on Friday, 7th August 2020, killed at least 149 people, injured more than 5,000 and left another 300,000 without homes fit to live in – were the most powerful ever to rip through Beirut. The blast rattled buildings on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, about 160 km away (https://www.philenews.com/eidiseis/kosmos/article/993355/birytos-ypo-kratisi-16-stelechi-teloneioy-kai-limena) (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/05/initial-investigations-point-to-negligence-as-cause-of-beirut-blast-source-says/).
On Wednesday, 5th August, a Cyprus search and rescue team departed for neighbouring Lebanon, to contribute to ongoing frantic efforts to locate missing persons and survivors of the massive blasts (https://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/cyprus-sends-two-helicopters-to-assist-frantic-beirut-search-and-rescue-efforts).
Also, the Cyprus Police announced that two of its helicopters, boarded by members of special units and trained dogs, took off from the Larnaca airport. A police official said that one team is made up from five members of the Police Emergency Response Unit, and another five from the Disaster Emergency Response Unit which is under the Fire Department (https://www.ekathimerini.com/255545/article/ekathimerini/news/cyprus-police-helicopters-head-to-lebanon)(https://www.financialmirror.com/2020/08/05/cyprus-assists-in-beirut-rescue-mission/).
Cyprus also sent humanitarian aid to Lebanon on a flight to Beirut on Thursday evening, which also carried back the Cypriots wishing to be repatriated. The first batch of humanitarian aid included medical equipment, medicines and long-lasting food. Private institutions, businesses, and the public have helped in one way or another to put together a cargo of humanitarian aid bound for Beirut (https://www.financialmirror.com/2020/08/06/beirut-cyprus-sends-humanitarian-aid-evacuate-cypriots/).
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Kornilios Korniliou said that Cyprus is planning to send a team of volunteer doctors to offer help to the thousands that were injured in Tuesday’s blast.
The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nicos Christodoulides, noted that they have “also received requests for medical assistance and equipment, particularly first aid items” and that “the Health Ministry has already begun preparations on the basis of the requests submitted by the Lebanese government”. He further declared on state radio that “Cyprus is ready to accept injured persons for treatment and send medical teams if required” (https://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/cyprus-sends-two-helicopters-to-assist-frantic-beirut-search-and-rescue-efforts).
Moreover, he added that quantities of aluminum and glass have been requested, which Cyprus will meet in cooperation with the private sector.
It should be noted that three Cypriot women were injured by the blast, one being the Cyprus ambassador, Mrs. Eleni Papanikolaou, with the consulate office of the Republic destroyed by the explosion (https://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/cyprus-president-expresses-condolences-to-lebanon-readiness-to-provide-assistance).
Also, around 50 Cypriots who are permanent residents in Lebanon were repatriated on a flight back to Cyprus on Thursday, 6th August 2020. All those who were interested had to register at www.connect2cy.gov.cy by Wednesday 10pm to declare their interest to return to Cyprus, or to call 22801000 between 9am and 4pm. The Foreign Minister, Mr. Nicos Christodoulides, said that a second flight would be arranged if there were more Cypriots in Beirut wishing to return. (https://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/cyprus-president-expresses-condolences-to-lebanon-readiness-to-provide-assistance) (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/06/plane-brings-back-cypriots-from-traumatised-lebanon/).
On parallel lines, the Cyprus Commissioner for Volunteerism has also begun efforts for the collection of long-lasting foods and other essential items that are to be delivered to Lebanon. Drop off locations in each Cyprus district can be found in the following link: https://www.philenews.com/koinonia/eidiseis/article/993115/pos-boreite-na-boithisete-ton-lao-toy-libanoy(https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/06/collection-points-established-for-lebanon-aid/).
Furthermore, the SupportCy network has made itself available to the Cypriot government offering its support for any course of action taken by the government. It informed the Foreign Ministry of its capacity to ship medical supplies to Lebanon. At the same time, the REACTION crisis response unit has also been activated, in collaboration with the Bank of Cyprus and SupportCy (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/05/supportcy-network-ready-to-act-after-lebanon-blast/).
Additionally, courier service Aramex Cyprus have organized for food and clothes donations to be sent to Lebanon, in order to help people that have been affected by the explosion. It calls upon anyone who wants to send donations, to drop them off at any Aramex location across Cyprus (https://www.alphanews.live/cyprus/apostoli-trofimon-kai-royhon-meso-ton-katastimaton-aramex).
Cypriots in need of help in Beirut are also asked to communicate with the Crisis Management Centre of the Ministry +35799660129 or with the Embassy in Lebanon at +9613572139. Also, those who wish to donate money to the relief fund can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lebanon-relief?utm_term=re7R78DA2 (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/08/05/repatriation-flight-from-lebanon-cyprus-sends-in-rescue-team-update-3/).
Other countries pledging support include Greece, France, Egypt, Jordan, the Czech Republic and the EU (https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/08/05/reports-of-a-greek-death-in-beirut-blast-greece-cyprus-assist-lebanon/) (https://www.financialmirror.com/2020/08/05/cyprus-offers-medical-help-to-lebanon-as-blast-leaves-80-dead-4000-injured/) (https://www.financialmirror.com/2020/08/05/cyprus-assists-in-beirut-rescue-mission/).
Cyprus’ support and willingness to assist Lebanon in this time of need, is reflected by the President of the Republic of Cyprus’ statement, “My deep condolences to the Government and the people of Lebanon, particularly to the families of all those who died at the tragic Beirut explosions. We wish and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured ones. We stand ready to provide any assistance deemed necessary” (https://www.stockwatch.com.cy/en/article/genika/cyprus-president-expresses-condolences-lebanon).