UN asks for US $150 million in aid

BEIRUT - The United Nations is asking for US$150 million from donor countries to assist around 800,000 people in Lebanon. The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland launched the appeal in Beirut on Monday.

Egeland said the ‘flash appeal’ was to cover a period of just three months and “the clock just started ticking.” Around US $10 million of the money requested would go to help people fleeing Lebanon into Syria.

IRIN interview with Egeland in Beirut:

The appeal coincided with an unannounced visit to Lebanon by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said she was “deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring”.

Rice met Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, Nabih Berri. Hizbullah has appointed Berri as its negotiator.

Both Egeland and Rice left Beirut on Monday for Israel. Egeland, the UN’s top aid envoy, is understood to be seeking a meeting with the US Secretary of State.

The UN says it is working with Lebanon’s Higher Relief Council, set-up to handle the current crisis. The UN says at least 700,000 people have been displaced since Israel began its attacks on Hizbullah targets in Lebanon in 12 July. Southern Lebanon has since taken a heavy pounding, leaving villages isolated.

The Lebanese Red Cross says two of its clearly-marked ambulances carrying wounded from the southern town of Qana were hit on Monday in Israeli air strikes. Six Red Cross medics were wounded, it says, and the ambulances were damaged.

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