Two masked women holding each other, others around them (© Mohammed Zaatari/AP Images)
Relatives of Lebanese army lieutenant Ayman Noureddine, who was killed by the August 4 explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, mourn at his funeral procession August 7 in Numeiriyeh village, south Lebanon. (© Mohammed Zaatari/AP Images)

The United States is providing essential aid to the Lebanese people after a chemical explosion in Beirut killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on August 7 announced that the U.S. has pledged an initial $17 million in food and medical assistance. The aid includes emergency medical kits to help private hospitals treat victims of the explosion. The kits contain enough supplies to support 60,000 people over the next three months.

“We mourn the loss of life from the horrible tragedy that caused such tremendous destruction to Beirut,” Pompeo said in an August 7 statement. “We pray for the survivors and their families and for all the Lebanese people as they struggle to put their lives and city back together.”

The August 4 explosion of a warehouse containing ammonium nitrate, commonly used in fertilizer and explosives, killed more than 200 people and injured 6,000 others. The destruction in Lebanon’s capital initially left nearly 300,000 people displaced from their homes

Two photos: Plane with aid sitting on tarmac; people bowing heads in front of plane with U.S. aid (State Dept./Michael Zeltakalns)
Left: U.S. aid arrives in Beirut on August 11. Right: U.S. officials, including Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, center, and acting USAID Administrator John Barsa, right, bow their heads in front of the aid-filled plane. (State Dept./Michael Zeltakalns)

In his statement Pompeo called for a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the cause of the explosion. He added that the Lebanese people deserve a government that prioritizes its citizens’ safety and prosperity.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab stepped down August 10 in the face of widespread anti-government protests prompted by the disaster.

The new funds bring the total humanitarian aid provided by the American people to Lebanon to nearly $594 million since October 2018. That assistance includes $41.6 million for the fight against COVID–19 and helps private health facilities provide essential care.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Beirut. Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa traveled to Beirut this week to meet with international partners and support their efforts, including the U.N. World Food Program’s emergency food aid to 300,000 people.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea said in an August 7 tweet that she expects additional U.S. assistance.

“The United States continues to stand with the people of Lebanon, especially now, as you respond to the horrific explosion of August 4 and all of the massive destruction that it brought,” Shea said. “Now, more than ever, we echo our motto, we’re ‘in this together.’”

Aerial view showing destruction at seaport (© Hussein Malla/AP Images)
A massive explosion rocked Beirut on August 4, killing more than 200 people and damaging buildings across the capital. (© Hussein Malla/AP Images)