Lebanon: WFP racing to help vulnerable, prevent food shortages

12 August 2020

Humanitarian Aid

The World Food Programme (WFP) is racing to prevent food shortages in Lebanon as the country continues to reel from the triple shock of the devastating blast in Beirut, economic meltdown and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking in the capital on Wednesday, agency chief David Beasley announced that WFP will deliver 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour and a three-month supply of wheat to help replenish food reserves.

The first wheat flour shipment is expected to arrive within the next 10 days.

Thousands homeless and hungry

“It is hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the destruction caused by the explosion until you have seen it for yourself. I am heartbroken”, Mr. Beasley said after spending three days in Lebanon.

“Today, because of the port explosion, thousands of people have been left homeless and hungry. WFP is racing to provide help for the most vulnerable and to prevent food shortages across the country.”

While in Lebanon, Mr. Beasley visited the Ports of Beirut and Tripoli, witnessing food distributions and the provision of food in communal kitchens run by WFP’s partner, Catholic relief network Caritas.

He also visited injured WFP staff in the hospital and met with President Michel Aoun and top government officials where he stressed the agency’s operational autonomy and neutrality.

Averting potential catastrophe

The WFP assistance is part of a rapid logistics operation that will also involve setting up warehouses and mobile grain storage units.

Lebanon imports nearly 85 per cent of its food and Beirut Port was essential for trade coming into the country.

WFP will also bring in equipment to render the port operational enough so that wheat and other bulk grains can be imported, while a third plane will carry generators and mobile storage units as an immediate solution.

“After examining the port we feel confident that we can establish an emergency operation very soon,” said Mr. Beasley. “There’s no time to waste as we are looking at a catastrophe in the making if we do not get food in and get this part of the port operational again.”