The UN announced $10 million in aid on Wednesday to buy vital fuel to keep water pumps working and to support Lebanon's struggling hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, which are running low on supplies amid the worst economic crisis in the country's history.
Fuel and electricity shortages are “putting thousands of families at risk of a humanitarian crisis,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN's under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, from Beirut.
Lebanon’s central bank is short of foreign reserves needed to import fuel, medicine and other subsidised goods, creating shortages. Power cuts can last for more than 24 hours at a time.
Many in Lebanon rely on diesel to run private generators to power homes, businesses and water pumps. So too do hospitals, and they report that their generators are struggling to keep the lights on.
The UN has allocated $4 million for fuel to keep water pumping stations functioning. The pumps supply 2.3 million residents with water in the country of 6 million people.
The fund will also support water supply areas that serve more than two thirds of Lebanon’s population in Beirut, the Bekaa region that borders Syria, Mount Lebanon, as well as the north and the south, the statement said.
Public water supply and wastewater treatment systems have been drastically cut across the country, Mr Griffiths said, leaving “millions of people without access to water in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Mr Griffiths is meeting senior government officials in Beirut as part of a week-long visit to Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.
Another $6 million will go towards humanitarian aid to 65 hospitals, primary healthcare centres, dispensaries and medical cold chain storage.
Economic collapse is weighing on Lebanon’s medical sector, once one of the best in the Middle East, but also on state institutions.
On Monday, the UN Security Council instructed its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for the first time to provide fuel, food, medicine to the Lebanese army for six months.