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Lebanon update: fully operational in the south

Briefing notes

Lebanon update: fully operational in the south

25 August 2006

UNHCR's distribution of assistance to returned villagers in south Lebanon is now fully operational. Yesterday we had four convoys into the area, carrying goods stockpiled in Tyre, Sidon and Beirut, to people our field teams had identified as needing urgent assistance. Today, three more convoys are planned. UNHCR is the lead UN agency for providing temporary shelter for those outside the major cities who have lost their homes. The convoys are bringing in large numbers of essential items like tents, blankets and plastic sheets.

One convoy of seven UN trucks on Thursday from Tyre brought UNHCR supplies that included 2,500 blankets, 1,060 plastic sheets and 200 tents to the heavily damaged town of Sidiqqine. Two convoys of commercial trucks hired by UNHCR brought supplies directly from our warehouse in Beirut to two villages in the south. One with three trucks carried 130 tents, 750 blankets, 750 mattresses and 130 plastic sheets to Ghanduryah and another with five trucks carried 1,150 blankets, 1,150 mattresses, 500 plastic sheets and 230 tents to Markabe.

Another convoy carried UNHCR supplies - 1,555 blankets, 1,355 mattresses, 1,030 plastic sheets and 226 tents - to areas around the southern town of Nabatiyeh that had been visited by assessment teams earlier in the week.

Today, we have further convoys headed to the villages of Srifa, Qantarak and Et Taibe. Another convoy is heading from the UNHCR warehouse in Beirut to our warehouse in Sidon, building up supplies that will be moved further inland in the next days.

There are some displaced people who have not been able to return home. Although the government estimated 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the ceasefire, some found their homes either destroyed or uninhabitable and are now staying with friends or relatives. There are also some who have remained in the original place where they fled during the fighting, unable to leave because they have no home or are worried about security. That includes perhaps 2,000 Lebanese who have remained in Syria. UNHCR teams are monitoring these individuals in Lebanon and Syria. We are also distributing assistance to the most vulnerable.

But the main focus is on the assistance to those who have returned, and UNHCR supplies continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road. We now have storage facilities in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre.

Since the crisis began in July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting, almost all of it now in Lebanon. That has included nearly 15,000 tents - 11,489 of them canvas tents and 3,362 lightweight tents. We have also brought 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. We have imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

The non-cash international assistance to UNHCR has included a major shipment from Sweden expected to arrive in the next few days, which includes 10 six-wheel-drive Scania trucks, 20 generators, 10,000 blankets and 369 tents. Norway's assistance has included 10,000 blankets and 10 large warehouse tents. Transportation assistance to UNHCR has included flights by the air forces of Belgium, Portugal and Germany to ferry in relief items stored in Amman. France provided a ship that brought supplies from Marseille and Greece paid for moving the Swedish shipment from Greece to Cyprus.