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23 March 2020 Lebanese FM Hitti and HR/VP Borrell discuss the country’s anti-coronavirus measures and its financial crisis

Lebanon’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nassif Hitti held a phone call with HR/VP Josep Borrell on 23 March and discussed the emergency measures adopted by the Lebanese government to fight the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the country’s current financial crisis. The Lebanese army has in fact been deployed to enforce a public lockdown since coronavirus cases are rising, with at least 304 people infected and four deaths confirmed as of 25 March. According to Human Rights Watch, the government and hospitals failed at providing the necessary medical equipment to deal with the pandemic due to Lebanon’s financial crisis, which has “restricted the ability of medical supply importers to import vital medical supplies, including masks, gloves, and other protective gear, as well as ventilators and spare parts.” In relation to Lebanon’s current domestic challenges, the two representatives discussed the economic reforms to be implemented in order to tackle the country’s sovereign debt crisis, and Borrell highlighted the importance of putting the needs of Lebanese citizens and the country’s interests as a first priority. According to a statement released by the European External Action Service (EEAS), Borrell also pointed out at Lebanon’s key role in welcoming Syrian refugees and the assistance that the EU is providing in that respect.