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19 September, 2020
 
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Beirut calls off search and rescue

Cypriot teams head back as world puts together aid package amid anger on Beirut streets

Newsroom

The Cypriot rescue mission in Beirut was on its way back to the island after Lebanon shifted its search and rescue focus to recovery, while world leaders including Anastasiades pledged aid amid violent protests over the weekend.

A number of international teams on the ground, including two K9 units from Cyprus, were told to call off search and rescue missions on Sunday. Five members of the Special Disaster Unit (EMAK) and five from the Emergency Response Unit (MMAD) from Cyprus worked on site for almost two days, alongside colleagues from Qatar.

But keeping international teams away from ground zero also raised suspicions according to some foreign media, after a Dutch team was not allowed to enter a crucial part of the site with their sniffing dogs and instead were told to survey another area.

There were reports of men without uniforms directing the port clean up while local media said the Lebanese civil defense called up its volunteers, telling them to be very careful as they walked through the rubble.

Aid from Cyprus included €5 million as well as placing airports and sea the ports at the disposal of the UN and the international community

Volunteers were specifically told to keep their eyes down all the time for their own safety but also because they needed to be looking for any sort of clues as to where there may be bodies or anything that looks familiar.

Reports also said at least 45 people thought to be buried in the rubble were Syrian nationals, who had been working at the port at the time of the explosion.

During protests over the weekend, Lebanese citizens took to the streets demanding reforms and calling on international actors to provide aid directly to the people, bypassing what they called a "corrupted" system in the country.

Reports said angry protesters took to the streets of the Lebanese capital both Saturday and Sunday, clashing with security forces who fired tear gas to disperse them.

At the same time, international leaders joined a virtual donor conference led by France and the United Nations in the aftermath of the devastating blast, pledging nearly $300m in humanitarian assistance that will be "directly delivered to the Lebanese population".

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who was among those who took part in the videoconference, said the Cypriot Government will be offering its airports and sea ports in addition to financial assistance for the Lebanese people.

The aid from the Republic of Cyprus included included €5 million while the government will also stand ready to place the international airports of Larnaca and Paphos and the “Andreas Papandreou” military airbase, as well as the ports of Limassol and Larnaca, at the disposal of the UN and the international community involved in any humanitarian and other assistance deemed necessary.

A radio marathon was scheduled to take place Monday morning on state-funded CyBC's Trito Programme, through which government, agencies, and the public can coordinate efforts to donate money and foodstuff to Lebanon.

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