Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications, email@example.com
The United States Embassy announced $13,300,000 in new assistance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon, in a press conference held at AUB this morning.
The event was attended by US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy C. Shea; AUB President Fadlo Khuri; Lebanese American University President Joseph Jabbra; Saint Joseph University Rector Salim Daccache; in addition to Dr. Ghazi Zaatari, interim dean of medicine, and Dr. Carine Sakr, chair of AUB's Expert Committee on the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. Also attending the event were a number of embassy personnel, members of the AUB administration, and other esteemed guests.
“We are delighted to welcome Ambassador Dorothy Shea for her first visit to the American University of Beirut, which is the basis of America's long relationship with Lebanon," said AUB President Fadlo Khuri. “We are particularly happy to welcome her at a time when she brings news of generous support for the plague of COVID-19, a plague that is striking people across the world and disproportionately affecting and indeed killing vulnerable peoples."
Khuri added, “We continue to hope and believe that the values of this university are about caring for educating the best and brightest irrespective of their fortune and their influence, and we believe that this generous investment by the United States government will serve to protect more lives and possibly even save more lives than would be possible without this assistance."
The announced funds include $5,300,000 in United States Agency for International Development's International Disaster Assistance for response activities focusing on the most vulnerable Lebanese, including by supporting private health facilities to properly triage, manage, and refer patients; ensure continuity of essential health services; carry out risk communication and community outreach activities; and increase access to water, sanitation, and hygiene activities in healthcare settings. Also included is $8,000,000 from the State Department's Migration and Refugee Assistance funding for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to support COVID-19 response efforts to help refugees and Lebanese host communities in need.
US Ambassador Dorothy C. Shea said, “The US government is helping to impact people's lives, by helping people on an individual and a societal basis to confront this pandemic. We have been pivoting some of our existing assistance programs to make sure that they are being as responsive as possible to the needs on the ground. We have also been drawing on additional resources from Washington, tailoring that assistance with our trusted partners in Lebanon to help meet emerging needs."
The new assistance is in addition to existing US assistance, which has been reshaped over the past month through the allocation of nearly $12 million to address Lebanon's emerging pandemic-related needs. This assistance further builds upon the nearly $4.9 billion in bilateral assistance, including more than $187 million in health assistance, that the US government has provided to Lebanon over the last 20 years. USAID, through the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), has invested more than $11 million over the past 10 years to support the construction, rehabilitation, and equipping of medical facilities at AUB and LAU. In addition to the bilateral funding, the US has provided more than $2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to respond to the Syria crisis in Lebanon.
Across the globe, USAID is supporting countries affected by COVID-19 by providing high-quality, transparent, and meaningful assistance. USAID is working with multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector, and other organizations responding on the ground to combat this dangerous pathogen. This includes working with frontline workers to slow the spread, care for the affected, and equip local communities with the tools needed to fight COVID-19.