President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, emphasized the importance of the proposal made this morning, during his meeting with the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, and the Secretary of State in the Vatican City, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to establish a national support fund for Lebanon, under the auspices of the Holy See, requesting the support of each of the Director-General of the Organization Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Qu Dongyi, and Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley for this proposal.
The President had met, at his residence, in the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Rome, with Dongyi and Beasley, in two separate meetings, this afternoon, where he presented them with his vision for the establishment of this project, which would contribute to providing financial aid and educational and health support for a large number of Lebanese, in addition to improving living conditions for citizens who are suffering from difficulties as a result of the severe economic crisis that Lebanon is going through.
Director General of FAO:
The President met the Director-General of FAO at three o’clock Rome time, where he thanked him for the care that the organization gives to Lebanon, especially since Lebanon is a founding member of it, and it had established its first country office in the world in Lebanon in 1977.
President Aoun thanked Dongyi for the great humanitarian and development role that the organization contributes to in Lebanon, and considered that the need for assistance programs provided by the organization is growing today, especially after the war in Ukraine and its repercussions on global food security.
The President also reminded Mr. Dongyi that more than a quarter of the population today are Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians, which doubles the impact of the successive crises suffered by the Lebanese people, especially after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic and the explosion of the Port of Beirut.
President Aoun noted that poverty has now affected 74% of the entire population, and that the suffering affects basic sectors such as health, education, and public services.
For his part, Dongyi stressed that the FAO will continue its interest in Lebanon, despite the difficult international circumstances, revealing that he will make contacts with the member states of the organization, in order to double their production of basic foodstuffs, with the aim of facing the emerging global situations as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Dongyi also promised the President to continue coordinating with the Lebanese government to provide what is needed for Lebanon. Dongyi also considered that President Aoun’s proposal presented today will be taken into consideration, especially in terms of how the organization will contribute to it within its powers.
Executive Director of the Food Program:
President Aoun received the Executive Director of the Food Program David Beasley, at four in the afternoon, Rome time.
The President had met Beasley in Beirut nearly 4 months ago, in addition to his meeting with him days after the Beirut explosion.
President Aoun thanked Beasley for the assistance provided by the program at the time to Lebanon, which approximates to 12,500 tons of wheat, and cash assistance.
President Aoun thanked Mr. Beasley for the program’s provision of successive aid to Lebanon to confront 4 major crises whose repercussions are still suffered from: the Syrian displacement crisis, the economic crisis and the Corona pandemic, in addition to what resulted from the explosion of the Port of Beirut.
Moreover, President Aoun stressed that Lebanon today is suffering an additional crisis in securing wheat, resulting from the war in Ukraine, especially after the explosion of the port of Beirut and the destruction of its wheat granaries.
For his part, Mr. Beasley stressed that the global situation is becoming increasingly difficult as a result of what is happening in Ukraine, asserting that the program was forced to reduce the aid it provides in Yemen, Chad, Syria and Afghanistan, but revealed that it had made several contacts with the aim of doubling the financial aid so that the program could continue work, especially in Lebanon.
Beasley also stressed that the program will not hesitate to help Lebanon, noting that President Aoun’s proposal is worthy of study and will remain subject to follow-up by the program in a way that contributes to its achievement.
Visit to Italy:
President Aoun will pay a visit to Italy tomorrow, during which he will meet with his Italian counterpart, President Sergio Mattarella, and review with him bilateral relations and issues of common interest.