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Lebanon loses UN fuel support as government urged to find long-term solution

by Apr 8, 2022Arab News

A UN-led emergency operation to supply health and water facilities in Lebanon with fuel has ended after six months, with the Lebanese government urged to find a long-lasting solution to the country’s devastating energy crisis.

Additional severe fuel and electricity shortages struck import-dependent Lebanon last summer, with the UN warning that critical services would be impeded and additional hardships placed on a population facing a raft of problems.

The UN-led operation, initially intended to last for three months but later extended, was launched in September in a bid to stop vital services from collapsing.

The World Food Programme, in co-ordination with other UN agencies and NGOs, delivered more than 10.4 million litres of fuel to 350 water facilities and 272 health facilities throughout Lebanon.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator Najat Rochdi described it as “one of the largest fuel service provision operations in the world”.

She underlined her concern over basic services and people’s welfare amid the energy crisis.

“I am appealing to the Lebanese government to find a sustainable solution to this issue, as the most vulnerable people need some form of assistance and protection,” she said.

In September, the fuel deliveries were described by the UN as “exceptional emergency support for a maximum duration of three months”.

Back then, Ms Rochdi called on the government to “save no effort” in finding sustainable solutions to the energy crisis and to “protect the rights of families in Lebanon to access essential services”.

Hospitals among those affected

Power cuts are a regular occurrence in Lebanon, with the embattled state-run power grid able to provide electricity for only a few hours a day at best. Many users, including hospitals, are forced to turn to private generators.

The fuel provisions were part of a wider emergency plan launched last year in response to various severe problems facing Lebanon, including an economic meltdown, Covid-19 and the 2020 Beirut port explosion.

Ms Rochdi’s office said the $383 million plan was only 25 per cent funded. “Urgent support is needed to sustain operations and scale-up critical humanitarian activities,” her office said.

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