UN agency concludes operation to feed 810,000 mostly displaced people

A volunteer from the Syrian Public Relations Association, a local organization in Damascus, helps organise relief supplies brought in by UNHCR for distribution, 9 August 2006. (UNHCR/A.Branthwaite)


The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today wrapped up a successful three-month operation in Lebanon to feed over 810,000 people displaced or otherwise affected by this summer’s fighting between Israel and Hizbollah, providing nearly 13,000 tons of food throughout the country.

“The Lebanese government will take care of the few remaining pockets that may need some assistance to secure their basic food needs, but for WFP our mission is complete,” the agency’s emergency coordinator for Lebanon, Zlatan Milisic, said.

“It was amazing to see how we cobbled it all together,” he added, noting that in a country where it had no office for many years WFP mounted an operation run by 150 national and international staff within a couple of weeks. “It is sad to leave but we should not stay one day longer than needed.

“The human and economic losses are staggering, but I have faith in the people’s strength and resilience. I am confident that the Lebanese people will overcome this latest tragedy,” he said.

Due to the swift return of the displaced to their homes and other signs of improvement, UN agencies had already scaled down their activities. WFP’s decision to close operations was given added impetus by the findings of an agency assessment report that while some people like day workers, fishermen and some farmers in the south, still suffer from the effects of war, food is available at affordable prices and nutritional levels are good.

In addition to providing food, WFP organised logistics on behalf of the UN humanitarian community involving the transport of relief supplies by land, sea or air.

“A large part of our efforts involved moving non-food items into and within Lebanon on behalf of other agencies and non-government organizations, including fuel, shelter material, water and hygiene and medical equipment,” the head of WFP’s logistics operation, Thomas Keusters, said. “In all, WFP moved over 2,000 tons of humanitarian non-food items.”

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