France targets $357 mn at Lebanon aid conference
France said on Monday a forthcoming conference on Lebanon needs to gather $357 million in aid to meet the most urgent needs of the battered country's population.
The conference on Wednesday, co-hosted by President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, coincides with the first anniversary of the blast that disfigured Beirut and killed more than 200 people.
Former colonial power France has spearheaded international efforts to lift Lebanon out of crisis.
A first conference in the immediate aftermath of the blast collected 280 million euros ($332 million at current rates).
"The situation has worsened," Macron's office said on Monday.
Citing a UN estimate, his office said Lebanon's new needs amounted to $357 million and concerned food security, education, health and clean water supply.
World powers have made much of their help conditional on Lebanon installing a government capable of tackling corruption.
A local probe into the catastrophe has yet to yield significant arrests or even identify a culprit, with politicians widely accused of stalling progress.
In the past year, Lebanon has plunged into political and financial crisis and on Monday newly designated prime minister Najib Mikati said there was no chance of a cabinet lineup by mid-week to coincide with the anniversary.
The institutional vacuum is holding up a potential financial rescue plan for Lebanon, which defaulted on its debt last year and has since sunk into what the World Bank has described as one of the world's worst crises since the mid-19th century.
Wednesday's conference is to tackle emergency needs only and will not be concerned with structural financial assistance, Macron's office said.