(UN News Centre) - The United Nations is sending a joint emergency assessment team to the devastated port city of Tyre in south Lebanon tomorrow, from where some 85,000 people have fled worsening violence and devastation caused by more than three weeks of conflict that has already displaced around a quarter of the countrys population.
Thousands of people have left Tyre, this city in the south that had become the hub for humanitarian activities in southern Lebanon. So much so that Tyres population has dwindled from what it used to be over 100,000, to around 15,000, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told reporters in New York, reports Trend.
He said the people from south Lebanon were fleeing north, either to Beirut or to Syria, where around 5,000 Lebanese are arriving daily, adding to a displaced population already estimated at up to 150,000.
Around 25 per cent of Lebanons population have already been displaced by the conflict, the President of the Security Council for this month, Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng of Ghana, told reporters at a separate briefing, adding that starting from today the 15-member Council would start receiving daily UN updates on the situation.
We got an impression that almost about a quarter of the population of Lebanon has been displaced and then the flash appeal that was launched last week, the response has not been very encouraging, they have received only about 15 per cent of the amount they expected, he said.
On 24 July, the UN launched an appeal for $149 million in emergency assistance for Lebanon covering the next three months and focusing on food, health care, logistics, water and sanitation, protection and common services.
Mr. Fawzi said UN agencies were continuing to provide assistance to those most in need but also highlighted the difficulties they were facing, including reports from the World Food Programme that it had to postpone a convoy from Beirut to Jezzine until tomorrow because it did not have the necessary armoured escort vehicles.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is helping to transform an old railway depot in greater Beirut into a temporary shelter site for up to 1,000 displaced people, and it has also handed out mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets in two Lebanese Governorates.
For its part, the UN Childrens Fund has provided emergency supplies and family packs with mattresses, blankets, buckets and soap to people made homeless by the bombardment of Qana, which killed dozens of people at the weekend, including many children.
Mr. Fawzi said the World Health Organization was very concerned about water and sanitation because of the risk of infectious diseases, noting that diarrhoea has already been reported in one of the schools sheltering the displaced.
Separately, WHO also warned today that while medicines are essential to alleviate suffering and are a core element in the international relief efforts for Lebanon, inappropriate donations may cause more harm than good.
The Lebanese Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have asked for medicines and supplies for chronic conditions and surgical interventions and while many of the international donations of these have been exactly what was needed, a senior agency doctor said expired medicines or products of uncertain quality waste valuable resources.
Lebanon needs medicines, but it needs the right kind. Every box of medicines or other supplies donated has to be checked, sorted, stored and shipped to the right places, said Dr. Ala Alwan, Representative of the WHO Director-General for Health Action in Crises.
People need the right medicines quickly. We cannot afford to spend precious time sorting out the good from those of poor quality.