Mr. Speaker, last week, a devastating explosion rocked Beirut's port and city centre, killing at least 158 people, injuring 6,000 others and leaving over 300,000 people homeless. According to estimates, 90,000 homes and buildings, including hospitals and other health care facilities were damaged or destroyed.
Lebanon was already dealing with multiple crises before this incident occurred. The country is facing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis that has already left nearly half of the population in poverty, all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians across the country are deeply saddened by the devastating effects of this tragedy and the situation that Lebanon is facing.
I know many Lebanese Canadians are deeply touched by this tragedy. I think I can speak for all parliamentarians in extending our sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones.
The Lebanese-Canadian community is vibrant and dynamic right across the country, and it is a community that is bearing a heavy weight and feeling a huge loss. It is also a community that has rolled up its sleeves and sprung into action to help and to mobilize support, and its efforts have been exceptional.
The Government of Canada has also been seized with the disaster. Within 24 hours, Canada announced an immediate initial contribution of $5 million in humanitarian assistance, including $1.5 million for the Lebanese Red Cross, in the first 24 hours following the explosion. On Saturday we launched the Lebanese matching fund for donations collected directly from Canadians. Every dollar donated by individual Canadians between August 4 and August 24 will be matched by the Government of Canada, doubling the impact of each contribution. In recognition of Canadians' incredible generosity to date, we have increased the match from $2 million to $5 million.
The fund will be implemented through the Humanitarian Coalition, a group of experienced Canadian organizations present on the ground in Lebanon and delivering critical assistance. I want to assure Canadians that all Canadian assistance is provided through trusted NGO and multilateral partners.
On Monday, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would increase its support by an additional $25 million to support our trusted partners in responding to immediate needs and supporting early recovery efforts in the aftermath of the crisis, bringing our total response to $30 million, which is in addition to the existing humanitarian and development support we already provide to the people of Lebanon.
I thank all Canadians who have opened their hearts to the Lebanese people and so generously contributed to the relief effort. I encourage Canadians to donate to the Lebanon matching fund to help save lives and meet the urgent needs of the affected population.
Canada has a long and deep partnership with the Lebanese people. We have a strong Lebanese-Canadian community, and Canada will be there every step of the way, from immediate response to long-term recovery. Canada stands together with Lebanon.
Canada stands with the people of Lebanon.