ATFL Welcomes Senate Resolution on the Explosion in Beirut and the Need for Stability and Transparency in Lebanon
In the closing session before the holiday recess, the US Senate unanimously passed S.Res.682, “Recognizing the devastating explosion that rocked the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, and expressing solidarity with the Lebanese people.” The resolution was introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on behalf of Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman of the Committee, Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
After noting the devastation caused by the blast, the Resolution states that the “protracted political crisis in Lebanon” has led to negative consequences to the economy and “one of the highest rates of public debt, food insecurity, and hyperinflation.” It also points out that “the people of Lebanon across the political spectrum have renewed demands for a meaningful change in Lebanon’s political leadership, government accountability, and transparency.”
The ATFL is especially thankful to the sponsors and all members of the Senate for this strong endorsement of support for the Lebanese people, which affirms US Government efforts to provide “emergency humanitarian relief in concert with other governments and international partners.” The ATFL endorses calling on the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver assistance “directly to the Lebanese people through properly vetted channels, organizations, and individuals.”
ATFL President Ed Gabriel said, “ATFL is pleased to have worked closely with the Senate on this resolution, and I encourage Senate members to revisit the 2021 budget allocation of $112.5 million in economic assistance and work with their House counterparts to double the funding available for the reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of the country, again, through civil society and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). There is no better way for the US to demonstrate its commitment to Lebanon’s independence and stability than to increase humanitarian and development assistance over the next three years.”
The Resolution also calls on the government of Lebanon “to conduct a credible, impartial, and transparent investigation into the cause of, and responsibility for, the explosion, and include impartial international experts as part of the investigation,” as well as to determine the root causes of “instability and mismanagement” in the country.
Finally, the Resolution “calls on the Government of Lebanon to restore faith and confidence by prioritizing policies and programs that advance the interests of the people of Lebanon.”
Gabriel remarked that as the Resolution supports increased US Government efforts for Lebanon, the ATFL will continue to work with the House to introduce a similar resolution in January and push for its approval, and work to increase humanitarian assistance as quickly as possible in the FY22 budget.