Monika Schmutz, Switzerland’s ambassador in Lebanon has categorically excluded providing financial aid to the Lebanese government fearing a corrupt government would spend it inappropriately, according to RTS.
Instead Switzerland will send money via aid agencies, as it has already done to the Lebanese Red Cross.
The ambassador was in her office overlooking the port when the explosion occurred. Blown over by the blast she suffered a mild leg injury, according to RTS.
In an article published in the Financial Times, Ed Asseily, a trustee of the Centre for Lebanese Studies in the UK, wrote that the reigning emotion in Lebanon right now is anger not hopelessness.
When asked how the authorities allowed 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to be warehoused next to a strategic grain store and a city of 2m people, Asseily describes it as a tragic example of criminal negligence, born of the country’s venal administration which usually never acts except for some narrow personal or political purpose. At best, the explosive chemicals stayed because it did not suit anyone to move it. That dynamic is why Beirut lacks electric power, despite numerous countries offering to build power stations, he wrote.
Lebanon has 18 officially recognised religious sects. Political power is shared along sectarian lines and parties typically answer only to themselves while being exploited by foreign powers, with their own agendas.
The last time the winds of political change swept through Lebanon, following the assassination of prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005 by a bomb, many of those who pushed for change were killed by forces preferring the status quo. The life threatening risks that accompany political change are one of the political headwinds faced by Lebanon.
Over the weekend, after sending two teams to Beirut, Switzerland’s federal government decided to provide Lebanese aid agencies with CHF 4 million of financial aid. The money will be focused on healthcare and the construction of shelter for those who lost their homes.