WFP today welcomed a highly significant donation from the government of France of two million euros to provide immediate food assistance and logistical support to assist hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict in Lebanon.
This is a critical period in our operation when people need assistance more acutely than ever.
Cecile Sportis, director of WFP’s Paris Office
Today, a French military aircraft C-160 has begun providing flight rotations to transport humanitarian assistance from Larnaca, Cyprus to Beirut. The aircraft will carry emergency assistance on behalf of WFP for the entire humanitarian community. The Transal is expected to make further rotations in the coming days.
“We are extremely grateful for this generous and well-timed humanitarian gesture from the French government,” said Cecile Sportis, director of WFP’s Paris Liaison Office.
“This is a critical period in our operation when people need assistance more acutely than ever. Flying supplies in means the people who need them most will be helped as quickly as possible.”
The French have also offered to divert a ship sailing for Lebanon to the UN depot in Brindisi, Italy, in order to take on board additional relief items.
Further to WFP’s appeal for food assistance, France is considering the possibility of providing meals-ready-to-eat – which would benefit the displaced people, who are unable to cook for themselves.
Last week, Philippe Douste-Blazy, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, praised WFP, which is working in close cooperation with French NGOs to transport their cargo, effectively “free of charge” to the affected areas.
WFP’s current short-term operations in Lebanon are providing urgent food assistance to the most vulnerable people and those displaced by the conflict.
WFP is also organising on behalf of UN agencies and other humanitarian partners to provide the overall logistical coordination, transport and telecoms.
In Syria, WFP has begun distributing food to at least 7,000 Lebanese people who have taken shelter in public buildings in Damascus. With the number of refugees expected to increase, WFP has contingency plans to feed some 20,000 people in the Syrian capital.
Since the conflict began nearly a month ago, the UN estimates that more than one million people have been displaced by the conflict – 800,000 people in Lebanon – one-fifth of the entire population – and up to 300,000 on the Israeli side.
WFP operations within the UN flash appeal have been budgeted at 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 is prioritising assistance to 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.