Canada will provide an additional $25 million to Lebanon to help the country recover from a pair of explosions last week that destroyed a large portion of Beirut and left at least 160 dead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s office said Monday.
The money will be added to the $5 million announced last week, for a total of $30 million in humanitarian and recovery aid.
“I join Canadians across the country to mourn those who were lost in last Tuesday’s tragic explosion in Beirut, and to offer sincere condolences to their families and friends and they grieve this tragedy,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“Together, we can support the people of Lebanon as they work to heal and rebuild.”
Trudeau also urged Canadians to contribute to the Lebanon Matching Fund, which will see the federal government match donations made to the Humanitarian Coalition and its members between Aug. 4 and Aug. 24.
Monday’s announcement also saw government increase the limit for donations matched to $5 million. The Ministry of International Development said the original $2 million limit was reached in less than 48 hours.
“We are ready to do more and we will ensure that our investments go directly to communities affected,” Minister Karina Gould said following the announcement.
The original $5 million in aid, which was announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Wednesday, included an initial $1.5 million that was given to the Lebanon Red Cross to meet urgent needs like food, shelter and emergency medical services.
“Canada will be there every step of the way to help the people of Lebanon as they rebuild and to push for much-needed political and economic reforms,” Champagne said in a statement.
The funding increase came hours after Lebanon’s prime minister and cabinet resigned following public outrage over the blasts, which have been blamed partially on government corruption. Protests have erupted across the country since the catastrophe, with demonstrators demanding reform.
Over 6,000 other people were injured by the explosions, while hundreds of thousands are believed to have been displaced.
The blasts, which occurred near Beirut’s port and central district, destroyed homes as well as key infrastructure.
The first explosion took place just after 6 p.m. local time.
It remains unclear what caused the explosions, though authorities believe the first blast may have been at a warehouse containing fireworks located at the port.
The second blast is believed to have occurred at a warehouse used to store nearly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material.
The material had been stored at the port since 2013 with few safeguards despite numerous warnings of the danger.
The result was a disaster Lebanese blame squarely on their leadership’s corruption and neglect. Losses from the catastrophic blast are estimated to be between $10 billion to $15 billion.
About 20 people have been detained after the blast, including the head of Lebanon’s customs department and his predecessor, as well as the head of the port. Dozens of people have been questioned, including two former Cabinet ministers, according to government officials.
On Sunday, world leaders and international organizations pledged nearly $300 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Beirut, but warned that no money for rebuilding the capital would be made available until Lebanese authorities commit themselves to the political and economic reforms demanded by the people.
— With files from Hannah Jackson and the Associated Press