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Lebanon: UNHCR warehouse fire

Briefing notes

Lebanon: UNHCR warehouse fire

8 September 2006

A fire yesterday (Thursday) in our warehouse in Beirut has caused serious losses in our emergency supplies. The initial estimate is that about $700,000 in material was lost. While large amounts of UNHCR emergency supplies have already been distributed or transferred to our warehouses in the southern cities of Sidon and Tyre, the Beirut warehouse was our main facility in Lebanon. Supplies arriving from outside the country are initially held in the Beirut warehouse. Figures earlier this week showed that it still contained 98,153 blankets, 9,285 mattresses and 6,652 tents as well as many other items. Not everything at the warehouse has been lost but a substantial portion was destroyed.

There is no indication that the fire was anything other than an accident. One worker was slightly injured and was released after treatment at a hospital. The building itself was largely undamaged. As is usual during emergency situations like this one in Lebanon, the emergency supplies were not insured.

These losses will have a major impact on our operation in Lebanon and will significantly hamper our ability to provide assistance to those in need. It is unclear how we can replace the lost items. UNHCR convoys have been carrying emergency aid into villages devastated by the war, providing items like tents and blankets that Lebanese returning to their destroyed and damaged house need while they rebuild.