The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it will provide technical assistance to support an emergency operation in Lebanon mounted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The operation will assist people displaced by the ongoing clashes in two of the largest Palestinian refugee camps, al-Hilwah and Nahr al-Bared.
At the request of UNRWA, WFP has deployed three staff to provide help in logistics, communications and coordination of assistance among partners.
On Monday (4 June), UNRWA issued a flash appeal for US$12.6 million to assist an estimated 27,000 people displaced from the Nahr al-Bared camp. The agency estimates that most of the camp’s population has fled, seeking shelter with relatives, in UNRWA schools or in the nearby Beddawi camp, where living conditions are now seriously threatened as the population has more than doubled – to 37,000. Those still remaining in Beddawi camp are without adequate water and sanitation.
“We are concerned for the safety and welfare of thousands of refugees both inside Beddawi camp as well as those who have fled to other areas; many are still without power, medical help or supplies,” said Naila Sabra, WFP’s Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. “WFP is working closely with UNRWA and the UN country team to reach those in need,” she added.
Since fighting broke out in Nahr al-Bared camp near the northern city of Tripoli on 20 May, thousands of civilians have fled the camp with only the belongings they could carry. Clashes erupted earlier this week in a second camp, al-Hilwah, near the southern city of Sidon.
Although WFP closed its office in Lebanon in October 2006 after concluding a three-month emergency operation, it has maintained a national liaison officer in Beirut who is monitoring the situation, liaising with UN and other counterparts and participating in emergency preparedness activities, including inter-agency contingency planning processes.
From late July to October 2006, WFP provided food assistance to over 810,000 Lebanese who were affected by the bombing of their country last summer.