A plane carrying emergency relief supplies, including food, medicine, medical equipment and other urgently-needed materials will depart Yerevan for Beirut on Saturday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s press office announced on Thursday.
Boarding the flight to Beirut will be Armenia’s High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan, who will meet community and religious leaders there and assess the needs of the Armenian community in Lebanon to prepare for further assistance to the beleaguered country.
A powerful explosion at the Beirut port on Tuesday has thus far claimed 137 lives and injured 5,000 people, according to official reports. The Armenian community in Lebanon also has suffered from the blast, with community officials reporting that 11 people died and some 250 people were injured.
On Thursday, in a written note to His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, President Armen Sarkissian pledged Armenia’s support to Lebanese Armenian community, emphasizing the need for a united and national response to the devastating crisis.
“The consolidation and unified action by Armenian organizations will also be a powerful response to overcoming this human and national crisis,’’ said Sarkissian in his communication to Aram I, according to the president’s press service.
“I am shocked and feel great sorrow for this huge disaster that Lebanon, the friendly people of Lebanon and our Lebanese-Armenian compatriots are facing. This is not the first time Beirut has faced a crisis and this great challenge also will be overcome,’’ said Sarkissian.
Meanwhile, Pashinyan opened his regular Thursday cabinet meeting by focusing on the Lebanon situation, saying that Armenia cannot remain indifferent “at this difficult time toward the needs of the friendly people of Lebanon and the Armenian community.”
“Lebanon is among Armenia’s closest allies. Our two countries are connected with numerous historic and cultural ties. Beirut was the capital of the Armenian Diaspora of the 20th century. For many decades, Beirut was the epicenter of religious, political and cultural life of the Diaspora. To this day it keeps its unique significance and huge role as a highly important center of Armenian presence in the Middle East,” said Pashinyan, offering condolences on behalf of the Armenian people.
Azatutyun.am reported that Samvel Karapetyan, a Russian-Armenian billionaire and philanthropist known for his Tashir Group, has pledged on to give $10,000 to each of the families of the 11 Lebanese Armenian victims. Karapetian’s Moscow-based charity said it will also donate $200,000 to Beirut’s main Armenian church that also was damaged by the devastating blast wave.
President Emanuel Macron of France became the first world leader to visit Beirut on Thursday after the blast, pledging economic and relief assistance from his country and Europe.