The federal government is backing calls for an independent investigation into what caused the deadly Beirut explosion, Canada’s minister of international development says.
“Canada also supports an independent investigation to understand what happened and how we can ensure a tragedy like this never happens again,” Karina Gould tweeted on Sunday.
She reiterated Canada’s pledge to provide $5 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon, which was announced on Wednesday. Gould said $1.5 million of the aid would be given to the Lebanese Red Cross.
Up to $2 million will be matched by the federal government under the Lebanon Matching Fund for every dollar donated by Canadians to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members between Aug. 4 and Aug. 24.
The funds are expected to help push for “fundamental” political reform in Lebanon, as well as aid in the country’s “economic renewal.”
“We are clear that unless these reforms take place, there will not be direct financial assistance to the Government of #Lebanon,” she said.
On Saturday, Gould said the world was “very keen” to understand what events led to the explosion.
“Those conversations are certainly ongoing and we are engaged with our counterparts in France and right around the world,” she said.
“This is certainly something that is of enormous concern and we want to ensure that something like this cannot happen again in the future.”
The government’s response to Tuesday’s Beirut blast comes during a time of civil unrest in Lebanon, with protests erupting across the country calling for government reform after years of mismanagement and corruption.
The explosion tore through much of the capital city, including its port, killing nearly 160 people and injuring almost 6,000. As of Saturday, dozens were still missing and an estimated 300,000 had been displaced from their homes.
The protests began after it was confirmed that the explosion was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate allowed to remain in the Lebanese capital for seven years despite multiple warnings from a customs official.
Since then, the country’s information minister Manal Abdel-Samad has resigned, and at least six other officials have reportedly offered their resignations.
“In respect for the martyrs, and the pains of the wounded, missing and displaced, and in response to the public will for change, I resign from the government,” Abdel-Samad wrote in a statement, adding that real change within the country remained “elusive.”
One police officer has also died during the demonstrations, which have seen protesters overtake government institutions and display symbolic nooses accompanied by signs demanding elected officials “resign or hang.”