Thousands of Lebanese heading home from Syria get WFP food parcels

Published on 16 August 2006

WFP has said that to facilitate the mass return of Lebanese who had taken refuge in Syria, it has been providing bread and biscuits to the thousands of people heading over the border back into Lebanon.

WFP has said that to facilitate the mass return of Lebanese who had taken refuge in Syria, it has been providing bread and biscuits to the thousands of people heading over the border back into Lebanon.

The UN will need to implement concrete programmes aimed at helping vulnerable Lebanese rebuild their livelihoods

Pippa Bradford, WFP’s Representative in Syria

Since the cessation of hostilities on Monday, 60,000 people have crossed into Lebanon – in private cars, Syrian and Lebanese taxis, buses and trucks, while some small groups were also seen walking back.

“It is reassuring that in spite of all the suffering they have been through and the uncertainty of what awaits them back home, they are filled with hope and excitement, keen to start rebuilding their lives,” said Pippa Bradford, WFP’s Representative in Syria.

Working around-the-clock

WFP and UNHCR, along with volunteers from the Aga Khan Foundation and the Syrian Red Crescent Society, are working around-the-clock at the main border crossings, handing out small but important food aid packages to the thousands of Lebanese to help them through their first days back in Lebanon, after weeks spent in public buildings in Syria.

In support of this initiative, and ahead of the anticipated Lebanese return, WFP had dispatched eight tons of high-energy biscuits and six tons of bread to the main border points between the two countries.

In addition, 12 tons of canned meat were also sent for distribution to the Lebanese returnees.

Just the beginning

“Providing sustenance for the journey back home is just the beginning; there is a tremendous amount of work to be done by the UN and the international community to help the people of Lebanon reconstruct their lives,” said Bradford, adding that with the disruption of the country’s commercial and economic activities, “The UN will need to implement concrete programmes aimed at helping vulnerable Lebanese rebuild their livelihoods”.

At least 900,000 people have been internally displaced in Lebanon, while an estimated 180,000 crossed the border to seek refuge in Syria. Last week WFP revised its emergency operation to provide assistance to over 500,000 displaced people in Lebanon and 50,000 people in Syria.