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    Decision on Belgian aid to Beirut expected today

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    A decision is expected on Thursday on the form that Belgium’s aid to Lebanon will take following the violent explosions that shook Beirut on Tuesday, according to Foreign Affairs.

    Belgium was quick to signal its readiness to provide assistance, including through the B-Fast emergency response teams, but it remained to be seen how to meet the precise requirements of Lebanon.

    On Wednesday, in the aftermath of the deadly explosions, the EU activated its civil protection mechanism at the request of the Lebanese authorities. The European Commission, therefore, took on a coordinating role, drawing on offers of assistance from the individual Member States. From the outset, the EU executive announced that it would manage the dispatch of at least 100 firefighters specialised in search and rescue in urban areas.

    According to Foreign Affairs spokesman Karl Lagatie, Belgium received late Wednesday afternoon details of specific requests from Lebanese local authorities in terms of assistance that would be useful on the spot. A political green light is now needed for Belgian assistance to materialise. This green light is expected later today.

    The explosions at a warehouse in the port of Beirut storing ammonium nitrate have left at least 137 people dead and 5,000 injured, according to a latest provisional assessment by the Lebanese Ministry of Health. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. So far, we know that two Belgians are among the victims.

    The Brussels Times