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Water And Other Essentials Needed In Beirut

Water And Other Essentials Needed In Beirut Says UN As It Sends More Convoys South
New York, Aug 17 2006 4:00PM

The tens of thousands of people returning to the war-ravaged southern suburbs of Beirut desperately need clean drinking water, medicine and other essentials, the United Nations said today, as it dispatched more aid convoys to others in need in the devastated towns and cities in the south of the country.

The three convoys are headed to Sidon, Tyre and Marjayoun, a UN spokesman told reporters in New York, adding that the World Health Organization (<"http://www.who.int/hac/crises/international/middle_east/en/index.html">WHO) is also sending more than 120 trauma kits and six medical kits, with equipment for some 12,000 operations, to the Marjayoun hospital.

In addition, a WHO fuel tanker has left Tyre for the southern village of Bint Jbeil, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, while highlighting that since the beginning of the current crisis, the World Food Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org/english/?ModuleID=137&Key=2174">WFP) has distributed more than 1,300 tonnes of food to over 262,000 Lebanese.

Almost 100,000 people have now returned from Syria, or more than half of an estimated total of 180,000 Lebanese who fled there to get away from the fighting, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<"http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl=NEWS&id=44e49ff92">UNHCR) said today, as it continued to organize bus transport for many of the returnees.

“The people are very excited to go. They certainly know about the difficult situation in Lebanon, but all we see here are happy faces,” said UNHCR protection officer, Lisa Quarshie, at the Al Aarida border crossing. “Lately we see people with lots of boxes going back, filled with food and bedsheets and other donations from the Gulῦ States.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which along with providing essential aid is also helping run awareness programmes on the danger of unexploded ordnance in Lebanon, estimates that 6,000 people are headed back toward the worst-hit areas in the south of the country every hour.

A UNHCR team has now arrived in the southern port city of Tyre, which was cut off at one stage during the conflict, and the agency says this is the advance guard of the staff who will establish warehouse facilities and establish exactly what assistance will be needed by those trying to rebuild in the worst-affected areas.

“There's severe destruction caused by aerial bombardments,” said UNHCR's senior liaison officer Harry Leefe. “Where there was once a house, I could just see a bomb crater. There are also lots of cluster bombs.”

Ends

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