As conflict rages in southern Lebanon, UN to send more convoys of emergency supplies

27 July 2006

Responding to the increasing humanitarian crisis in war-ravaged Lebanon, the United Nations will send two additional convoys of emergency supplies to the south of the country tomorrow, a UN spokesman said, following the successful aid delivery to the devastated port city of Tyre on Wednesday.

“Those convoys, which are being organized by the World Food Programme (WFP), are to go to the towns of Jezzine and Sidon, and we also hope to go deeper into the south in the following days,” Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

With more than one fifth of Lebanon’s 3.8 million population believed to have abandoned their homes to escape the conflict, WFP said in a news release that it plans to increase the number of people targeted by its contribution to the emergency operation.

Yesterday’s UN relief convoy, which carried supplies from WFP, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), passed thousands of displaced people on the road heading for safe havens. According to one WFP staff member, the towns and villages that these people have abandoned resemble “ghost towns.”

WFP is responsible for providing logistics support – trucking, warehousing and communications – to the UN relief operation in Lebanon and has deployed 20 staff to Beirut in response to the escalating crisis, while support structures have been established in Damascus, Syria and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Almost 360 Lebanese have been killed in the conflict so far with an estimated 1,500 injured, the great majority civilians, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report, highlighting that 42 Israelis have also died in nearly two weeks of fighting.

“The conflict continues to cause enormous damage to residential areas and key civilian infrastructure with hundreds of bridges and road networks, mainly in the south [of Lebanon], systematically destroyed, leaving entire communities in the south inaccessible and hampering relief operations,” OCHA said.

Out of an estimated 800,000 people affected by the violence, around 700,000 have fled their homes, with 125,000 or so staying in schools and public institutions in Lebanon and 150,000 estimated to have crossed the border into Syria, it added.

 

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