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Lebanon: UN Launches $149 Million Appeal

Lebanon: UN Launches $149 Million Three-Month Emergency Appeal

New York, Jul 24 2006 6:00PM

The United Nations today launched a $149 million humanitarian appeal for Lebanon covering the next three months and focusing on food, health care, logistics, water and sanitation, protection and common services for an estimated 800,000 people affected by the worsening conflict.

“The aid community can help save lives in this region,” said Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who is seeing the situation first-hand in Lebanon before travelling on later today to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“More supplies are on their way – but we need safe access so that we can get the aid to those who need it most,” he stressed, echoing earlier calls that humanitarian workers and supplies be allowed for those most in need in the conflict.

Two weeks of fighting between the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Lebanese group Hezbollah have killed over 350 people and wounded more than 1,500 inside Lebanon, while in Israel over 34 people have been killed and 200 wounded, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

Approximately 800,000 people have been affected by the conflict, some of these are internally displaced, and the humanitarian situation is particularly acute in the south of Lebanon, OCHA added, a point highlighted by Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Coordinator, speaking about the appeal in New York.

Ms. Wahlström said the appeal would be revised if needed because estimates of the amount of aid required were difficult to make because of the access problems. She criticized all sides in the conflict for violating humanitarian law by not doing more to prevent civilian casualties.

“The extremely vulnerable situation of the civilian population I think is very evident to all of us. It’s clear that all parties to this conflict are in violation of international humanitarian law by not taking due care to prevent the civilians from being injured and being caught in the middle of this conflict.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it was asking for almost $24 million out of the total appeal to provide rapid support for displaced or refugee children and families who are in urgent need of medical care and other essentials.

“Many of those who have been uprooted in the violence are children,” said Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “They may have witnessed the death or injury of loved ones and many are suffering acute distress.

“Children face the immediate danger of disease and will be impacted by the loss of hospitals, health clinics and schools.” UNICEF has already provided $1.2 million for medical supplies and other immediate assistance, with the first charter flight leaving for the region last Saturday with 38 tonnes of supplies.

For its part, the UN refugee agency has asked for almost $19 million for its work aimed at helping 150,000 vulnerable displaced people in Lebanon and neighbouring countries.

“The plight of the displaced in Lebanon is growing more difficult by the hour and it’s crucial that we get the humanitarian pipeline flowing now,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres.

“UNHCR is trucking some 40 trailers loaded with over 500 tonnes of aid supplies from our regional warehouse in Jordan to Syria. It’s frustrating that we can’t deliver this aid, particularly when there are thousands of uprooted civilians just a few hours away in Lebanon who desperately need it.”

In addition to pre-positioning tonnes of relief supplies, UNHCR has sent a 19-member emergency response team comprising humanitarian specialists who will augment the agency’s staff in Syria and Lebanon.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is coordinating the UN’s health action in this crisis in collaboration with Lebanon’s Ministry of Health, is appealing for $32.4 million.

“As more people are displaced and as more infrastructure is destroyed, the health needs will grow. International concern for the people caught in this conflict is high. Funding from the international community for health will save lives and reduce suffering,” said Dr Ala’ Din Alwan, the WHO Director-General’s Representative for Health Action in Crises.

WHO, whose partners include UNICEF, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said that among other things the funds will help increase support for the health ministry in coordinating the humanitarian response, setting up mobile health care units and putting in place urgent immunization campaigns for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“Urgent action is needed to protect the health and well-being of women, children and other innocent civilians,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, whose Agency has asked for just over $6 million.

“The widespread destruction of public infrastructure and services is dangerous for everyone, but especially for pregnant women, the injured and others who may need medical care to survive.”

ENDS

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