Foreign minister to tour Beirut aid efforts on first overseas trip since COVID


OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is heading to Lebanon this week to get a firsthand look at the devastation caused by this month’s deadly explosions in Beirut.

The visit will mark Champagne’s first overseas travel since March, when countries around the world, including Canada, closed their borders to slow the spread of COVID-19.

It comes nearly three weeks after a powerful explosion at Beirut’s port ripped through the city, killing at least 180 people, injuring more than 6,000 and leaving much of Lebanon’s capital in ruins.

Canada has so far committed $30 million to help pay for emergency food, water, shelter and medical assistance in the immediate aftermath.

During his visit, Champagne is expected to meet international aid workers and members of Lebanon’s embattled government, which many Lebanese believe is culpable for the explosion due to endemic government corruption and negligence.

After Lebanon, Champagne is scheduled to fly to Switzerland, Italy and Britain for meetings with UN officials and several of his European counterparts, before returning home where officials say he will quarantine for 14 days.