Shukran Qatar (Thanks Qatar) slogans have filled the streets of Beirut after Qatar pledged to help the blast hit Lebanon and aid began to be flown from Doha into the crisis-hit Middle East country.
"After the 2006 war, Qatar stood as the main contributor to rebuild Lebanon. We remember Qatar's generosity and the Shukran Qatar slogans marked our gratitude. The same slogan is now back on our streets,” Ziad Nassar, an activist of the Minteshreen Youth Movement, told Gulf Times.
He expressed gratitude to Qatar, as well as businesses and entrepreneurs for donating a portion of their sales proceeds to help their Lebanese sisters and brothers.
NGOs, youth movements and rights groups in Lebanon have hailed Qatar’s "instant, effective" aid for Lebanon, which has been reeling under shortages after the August 4 deadly explosion that hit the Beirut port, devastating surrounding areas. They said Qatar’s generosity was "not surprising at all and memorable". They have urged Qatar to play a leading role in bringing an end to the long pending political chaos and help the youth put pressure on the government to work towards establishing a true democratic state where justice reigns.
The port explosions caused at least 172 deaths, 6,000 injuries, $10–15 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
“Already hit by a political and economic crisis, the blast has aggravated the plight by causing a big humanitarian disaster. Qatar's help has come as a big relief and at the right time,” he said. Since the October Revolution of 2019 in Lebanon, the 28-year old Qatar resident has been active in Beirut taking part in protests and relief activities.
“No surprise to see Qatar in the forefront while it comes to helping Lebanon. Qatar has always been there to support Lebanon whether politically or financially when faced with hardships. Qatar has a penchant for extending relief to us. And this legacy remains intact,” he said, reminiscing several occasions where Qatar played a pivotal role in restoring peace and political stability in his country.
Qatar has so far provided $50mn in aid to Lebanon and is expected to unveil plans to help rebuild the devastated capital. The ‘Lebanon in Our Hearts’ fundraising campaign raised over QR94mn, after Qatari citizens and organisations joined hands to help Beirut blast victims.
In order to help the blast victims, Minteshreen along with other organisations, has set up a Base Camp where stations supply food and tools and first aid round the clock, all covered by volunteers and donations. The group is helping clear and assess the damage caused by the blast. Safety guidance is also given besides mental and emotional support through a clinic.
Qatar has sent a fully-equipped team from the Qatari International Search and Rescue Group and established two field hospitals in Beirut. Qatar Airways has launched an aid programme that has enabled citizens and residents of Qatar to donate essential supplies. On Thursday, two aircraft of the Amiri Air Force landed at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport with 44 tonnes of medical and humanitarian aid. Another cargo plane carrying tonnes of relief aid, food and other essential items for those affected by the Beirut explosion has also arrived in Beirut.
Ziad said this help comes despite Qatar having faced bitter political experience from some parties in Lebanon.
Alleging lack of transparency on part of the Lebanese government in spending funds, Ziad urged the international community to help the victims through NGOs and other support groups.
“The country is in dire need of help from the international community to minimise the suffering. Complete absence of Lebanese government in serving on the ground and extending relief is beyond evident. We urge the international community and Qatar to put pressure on the government to announce early elections,” he said and demanded an international investigation into the explosion.
“The number of casualties as well as the real size of the damage remain unknown. But, what we all know now is that the government was aware of the presence of a 'mini nuclear bomb' in the middle of our capital. We paid the price for its laxity of storing explosives in residential areas,” he said, adding nothing but only an international investigation will shed light into the facts. “Our government’s credentials are dubious. Countries like Qatar can play a pivotal role to help us Lebanese achieve our demands and take our country to a new era,” he said.
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