UNGA 2020: Beirut is 'trying to rise from the ruins', says Michel Aoun

President thanks UN, its head and world for support after Beirut blast last month

epa08687368 A handout photo made available by UN photo shows Michel Aoun, President of Lebanon, speaking during the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, New York, USA, 21 September 2020. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations meetings are held mostly virutal. Seated at dais are Volkan Bozkir (at left), President of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.  EPA/Rick Bajornas / UN Photo / HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Lebanese President Michel Aoun thanked the UN, the world and Pope Francis for support after the devastating blast at Beirut port last month killed at least 190 and wounded thousands.

Mr Aoun said in his address to the General Assembly that the huge response from around the world, and Pope Francis' day of prayer, made the Lebanese people feel less alone.

“All of this assistance has had a huge positive impact on our country and our people," he said.

"Practically it provided urgent food and medical relief along with reconstruction materials, but morally this great solidarity made our people feel not alone but rather [that they] have in this world brothers and sisters in humanity who did not hesitate to support us.

Beirut blast in pictures

“Beirut today, ladies and gentlemen, is trying to rise from its ruins. Indeed, with the solidarity of all Lebanese people and with your support it will rise again as it has done over and over again throughout history.

"The earthquake-like explosion left a deep scar on the Lebanese conscience. Indeed, the images of victims and the pain of the injured and the tears of those who lost loved ones will never be wiped away.”

Mr Aoun’s speech comes seven weeks after the huge explosion at Beirut port, in which 2,750 tonnes of improperly stored ammonium nitrate caught fire.

The blast killed more than 190 people and injured 6,500.

Mr Aoun said that 200,000 houses were damaged and 300,000 people were left with no shelter.

He said the repercussion would be a sharp rise in poverty but he pledged that the recovery plan would involve the highest transparency amid international concern that money given to help Lebanon might be lost to corruption and waste.

Lebanon is in the middle of “unprecedented crisis”, Mr Aoun said.

He said, as in previous years, that Lebanon could not be a final home for almost a million Syrian refugees sheltering there.

Mr Aoun said that any breach of the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war with Israel would "make the situation more complicated”.

The resolution brought about the longest period of calm on the southern border between Hezbollah and Israel in decades.

But Mr Aoun warned: “Lebanon must not be used by Israel to hit Syria.”

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