WFP food reaches Lebanon as agency launches operations

Published on 24 July 2006

Following the arrival on Sunday of WFP’s first shipment of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon, today the agency launched an emergency operation that will reach over 300,000 people, including 50,000 people who have fled across the border to Syria.

Following the arrival on Sunday of WFP’s first shipment of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon, today the agency launched an emergency operation that will reach over 300,000 people, including 50,000 people who have fled across the border to Syria.

We need to reach these people fast. It is bad enough that their lives have been shattered without them having to go hungry as well.

Amer Daoudi, Emergency Coordinator, WFP operations in Lebanon

Twenty-five metric tons of high energy biscuits which arrived in Beirut port from Brindisi, Italy, will be distributed among the people, many of them children, displaced by the shelling that started on 12 July. This is the first shipment in a much larger operation over the coming three months.

Today, WFP launched a three-month emergency operation in Lebanon, as well as taking the lead on logistics for the overall US$130 million UN Flash Appeal.

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.

Amer Daoudi, Emergency Coordinator for WFP operations in Lebanon, said it was vital to move fast to get aid to the people who needed it most.

“We need to reach these people fast. It is bad enough that their lives have been shattered without them having to go hungry as well. The first UN convoy will be heading south on Wednesday and in the meantime we will be distributing high energy biscuits to displaced people in and around Beirut,” Daoudi said.

Immediate food needs

Copyright: AFP  PHOTO/Mahmud Zayyat

The emergency operation is valued at US$8.9 million and will respond to the immediate food needs of the displaced population.

WFP will prioritize distributing assistance to those most in need, which include 95,000 displaced people 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 been displaced by the conflict.

The total value of WFP’s logistics special operation is over $37 million. WFP is managing the logistics for all UN agencies.

Trucking fleet

The agency 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.

According to the Government, over a half a million people have been displaced, many of them facing increasing difficulties in obtaining food supplies.

Worries

WFP worries that if conditions continue to deteriorate, many more thousands of people will continue to leave their homes because of ongoing hostilities and will need humanitarian assistance.

Many of the people displaced by the conflict fled with just the clothes they were wearing and with very little food stocks and cash. Hoarding of food has also emptied shops of supplies and sent prices skyrocketing.