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Canada appoints new ambassador to Lebanon at critical time for country

OTTAWA — Canada has named a new ambassador to Lebanon, expediting the appointment as that country grapples with the aftermath of a major explosion in Beirut.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced Monday that Chantal Chastenay is taking over the job.

She replaces Emmanuelle Lamoureux, whose time in the post had come to an end earlier this summer after three years.

Lebanon is still reeling from the Aug. 4 blast, when thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port exploded, wounding 6,000 people and killed at least 180.

Two Canadians are among the dead, including a three-year-old girl.

Canada has so far contributed $30 million to the international relief effort, including a pledge to match donations to the Humanitarian Coalition until Aug. 24.

Chastenay has worked her way up the ranks of the foreign service, serving recently as deputy head of mission in Mexico.

In a post on social media, she said it was an important day in her diplomatic career.

“Grateful and honoured,” she wrote, along with icons of the Canadian and Lebanese flags.

Champagne said she was taking on the role at a critical time.

“We acted quickly to appoint her and I look forward to working closely together,” he said in a post to social media. 

Canada has also appointed a “task force” to assist on the ground in Lebanon.

In an interview last week, federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the consular work will be over and above the humanitarian aid, and aims to support the survivors of the explosion and those who have been displaced as a result.

“We will continue to look for ways to support them, that’s work that’s ongoing,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

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