Turkey ready to help rebuild Beirut Port, says VP Oktay
Vice President Fuat Oktay, who is visiting the Lebanese capital along with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said all of Turkey’s hospitals and air ambulances are at Lebanon’s service, as the country deals with the devastating fallout of Aug. 4's massive blast at the port of Beirut.
Speaking after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Oktay said Ankara has told Lebanon that it can use Turkey’s Mersin port until the Beirut port is rebuilt.
“Turkey is ready to help rebuild the heavily damaged Beirut port and nearby buildings,” the vice president said.
Oktay and Çavuşoğlu met Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who took them to the site of the explosion.
The Turkish officials conveyed their condolences for the loss of life and property, and reiterated Ankara’s willingness to help out in all aspects.
“Our aid agency TIKA [Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency] came here immediately and brought around 400 tons of wheat to the Tripoli port [in northern Lebanon] to help with the food shortage. We also brought medicines and medical equipment,” Oktay said.
He said the pandemic still poses a threat and Turkey will continue its support to limit the pandemic’s impact.
“We have delivered respiratory devices as well. We will continue bringing in more aid over the days to come,” the Turkish vice president added.
Diab said he was sure that Turkey will do everything in its power to help Lebanon through this tough time.
He added that the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon Hakan Çakıl was also part of the crisis committee formed after the explosion.
Oktay and Çavuşoğlu later visited the Lebanese parliament, where they met Speaker Nabih Berri.
Meeting with Turkish families
The officials also met families of Turkish citizens injured in the Beirut blast.
They inquired about the condition of the injured and assured the families of complete support.
Oktay said patients could be treated in Turkey if doctors allowed.
Earlier in the week, Çavuşoğlu said six Turkish nationals were hurt in the explosion - five suffering minor injuries and one had a surgery.
‘We stand with people of Lebanon’
During the visit, Çavuşoğlu also reiterated Turkey’s support for the people of Lebanon.
He said Ankara stands with the Lebanese people without any discrimination between Sunnis, Shias, Christians, or Arabs.
“We also stand with our kin, the Turks and Turkmens in Lebanon and around the world. We will grant Turkish citizenship to our brothers who say ‘I am Turkish, I am Turkmen,’ and express their desire to become a citizen.These are our [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s instructions,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The tragedy has come at a time when Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis, including a dramatic drop in the value of the pound against the dollar.
A fire at a warehouse at the Port of Beirut led to a huge blast, causing massive material damage in several neighborhoods of the capital.
According to Lebanon’s Health Ministry, at least 158 people have died and over 6,000 are injured since Aug. 4's explosion ravaged parts of the Lebanese capital.
The numbers, though, are likely to rise as efforts continue to find missing people.
The Lebanese government announced the formation of an investigation committee to probe the blast within a period of five days.
The blast rocked Lebanon while the country is experiencing its worst economic crisis, including a dramatic drop in the value of the Lebanese pound against the U.S. dollar.
On Aug. 6, a Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in Beirut.
The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 Disaster and Emergency Management Authority personnel, a search and rescue vehicle, three
Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) personnel, a search and rescue team as well as medical and humanitarian aid.
Turkish Red Crescent helps Beirutis
Meanwhile, Kızılay on Aug. 8 launched a relief campaign to help those affected by the massive explosion at the Beirut port.
Code-named “Extend Your Hands to Wounded Beirut”, the aid agency said in a statement the campaign aims to help residents of the Lebanese capital.