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UN Poised to Rush Aid to Lebanon

UN Poised to Rush Aid to Lebanon Once Cessation of Hostilities Takes Effect

New York, Aug 13 2006 10:00PM

With a cessation of hostilities set to take effect in Lebanon and Israel on Monday, United Nations agencies are poised to immediately step up emergency relief operations as soon as safe land movement is possible.

Convoys are loaded with supplies, including 100 metric tons of fuel for besieged hospitals, and waiting to proceed to Tyre and other locations in South Lebanon, subject to successful repair of the roads, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.

In addition, one of the two vessels chartered by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) which docked in Beirut today should proceed to Tyre with emergency supplies for different humanitarian agencies.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Saturday had announced that following talks with the leaders of both Israel and Lebanon, "the cessation of hostilities and the end of the fighting will enter into force on 14 August, at 0500 hours GMT."

That move followed the Security Council's adoption Friday evening of a resolution calling for an end to the fighting. The text welcomed the Lebanese Government's plan to deploy 15,000 troops across the south of the country as Israel withdraws behind the Blue Line. It also backed the simultaneous deployment of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with up to 15,000 peacekeepers from the current strength of some 2,000.

Humanitarian hubs in Tyre and Saida should become fully operational in the next 48 hours, said OCHA, functioning as 'integrated UN offices' that will serve the broader relief aid community. All activity is dependent on ability to move on the roads, many of which have become impassable due to bombing.

Three convoys of 24 trucks carrying drinking water, food, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies travelled to Saida today, while other vehicles were allowed to proceed to Aarida, Tripoli and Jezzine, OCHA said.

WFP-chartered ships brought in 2,750 metric tons of flour, past
lentils to Beirut today. Part of this cargo is set to be transshipped to Tyre on Monday.

In announcing the cessation of hostilities on Saturday, Mr. Annan said there should be an immediate end to the fighting "to respect the spirit and intent of the Council decision, the object of which was to save civilian lives, to spare the pain and suffering that the civilians on both sides are living through."

But UNIFIL reported today that fighting between Israel and Hizbollah intensified, and OCHA's update confirmed a rising death toll. Citing government statistics, more than 19 Lebanese civilians were reportedly killed in Israeli air raids yesterday, while one Israeli civilian was reportedly killed in a Hizbollah rocket attack.


ENDS

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