“Today, I appeal to the international community to help Lebanon carry out a journey of resurrection with concrete gestures, not just words," said the Pope, quoted by Agence France-Presse. "In this sense, I hope that the conference organised by France and the UN, currently underway, will be fruitful," added Pope Francis.
France and the UN are promoting today a videoconference with representatives from around 40 states and international organizations to raise 350 million dollars (295.3 million euros) for the population of Lebanon, estimated at 5.2 million people. The initiative takes place under the aegis of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.
The Pope referred to Lebanon at the end of the general audience at the Vatican, which he resumed today after the colon surgery he underwent on 4th July. International agencies indicated that Francis, 84, appeared to be in good shape during this first general hearing after the traditional July break.
"One year after the terrible explosion in the port of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, which caused death and destruction, my thoughts are with that beloved country, especially with the victims, their families, the many injured and those who lost their houses and jobs. And many have lost their life expectancy," said the Pope, quoted by the EFE agency.
Before several hundred faithful in the Paul VI Hall, the head of the Catholic Church renewed his desire to travel to Lebanon and his prayer that the country "returns to be a message of brotherhood and peace for the entire Middle East". On 4 August, 2020, the explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port of Beirut caused more than 200 deaths, 6,500 injuries, 300,000 people displaced and widespread destruction in the capital.
About 9,700 buildings were damaged or destroyed, according to UN estimates. A year later, Lebanon is plunged into a socioeconomic crisis, considered the worst in its history. The date will be marked in Lebanon with several ceremonies to pay homage to the victims and with a minute of silence at 6:07pm local time (3:07pm Lisbon time), precisely at the time the explosion took place. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the Lebanese authorities of obstructing the unfinished investigation into the explosion and of protecting politicians and officials in order to relieve them of their responsibilities.