WFP dispatches first UN convoy to southern Lebanon

Published on 26 July 2006

WFP today dispatched the first UN convoy with food and medical supplies from Beirut to the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, one of the hardest hit areas now home to thousands of displaced people.

WFP today dispatched the first UN convoy with food and medical supplies from Beirut to the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, one of the hardest hit areas now home to thousands of displaced people.

“While thousands have fled Tyre, tens of thousands still remain stranded with no fuel for their cars, no money for skyrocketing taxi fares and dwindling supplies of food. They have no assurances that they can safely leave. We have to assist these people before their situation deteriorates even further,” said Amer Daoudi, Emergency Coordinator for the WFP operation in Lebanon.

This convoy is a crucial opening of a land corridor, with more convoys to follow in the coming days

Amer Daoudi, WFP Emergency Coordinator

Tyre, founded by the Phoenicians and one of the oldest cities in the world, is 83 km south of Beirut. While the distance is not great, the widespread destruction of public infrastructure, including roads and bridges, as well as the targeting of commercial trucks, has seriously hampered relief operations. WFP has managed to mobilize a fleet of trucks, plus drivers willing to risk traversing the perilous roads.

Safe passage

“We have been promised safe passage and we trust that all parties will abide by this pledge. This convoy is a crucial opening of a land corridor, with more convoys to follow in the coming days,” added Daoudi.

Insecurity in the south of the country has so far made it near impossible for aid agencies to carry out any detailed assessment of conditions and needs. But there are fears that severe shortages in many areas of public services combined with soaring prices could plunge the humanitarian situation to a new low.

Poverty line

Thousands of people were already living below the poverty line, and economic life has ground to a complete standstill.

The ten-truck convoy will carry 90 metric tons of wheat flour donated by the Lebanese government and will include four trucks with supplies from UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).

Logistical support

As with any emergency, the success of relief efforts depends highly on having logistical support – including trucking, warehousing and communications – in place as early as possible. WFP is taking the lead and managing the logistics for all UN agencies.

The total value of WFP’s logistics special operation is over US$38 million – more than one quarter of the entire US$150 million flash appeal for Lebanon launched on Monday. WFP plans to discharge up to 12,000 metric tons of food and non-food relief items per month and to provide a common UN trucking fleet to UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

Displaced

The conflict has left over half a million people displaced amidst the wreckage of damaged infrastructure and a shortage of essential goods and services.

WFP has already begun distributing 25 metric tons of high-energy biscuits to 95,000 displaced people in and around Beirut.

Immediate food needs

WFP operations within the UN flash appeal will come to a total of US$48 million, including logistical support and an emergency operation to provide food aid, valued at US$8.9 million, to respond to the immediate food needs of displaced Lebanese.

WFP will give priority to distributing assistance to those most in need, including 95,000 displaced people seeking shelter in schools and public institutions in Beirut, 165,000 people in the heaviest-hit areas in southern Lebanon and 50,000 of the approximately 140,000 people in Syria who have fled the conflict.