(UN News Centre) - Stressing that Israeli civilians and ordinary Lebanese were the biggest losers in the conflict in Lebanon, the top United Nations emergency official said today it was a disgrace that Hizbollah and Israel were preventing humanitarian supplies getting through to more than 100,000 people in the devastated south of the country, reports Trend.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said there were over 200,000 people throughout Lebanon who humanitarian workers have been unable to reach because of the escalating violence, adding that the war-ravaged country was one of the worst places in the world in terms of getting aid to those most in need.
We have not had any access for several days to the besieged population of southern Lebanon. It is a disgrace really, because the parties to the conflict, the Hizbollah and the Israelis, could give us access in a heartbeat and then we could help 120,000 people in southern Lebanon, he told a press conference in Geneva.
The civilian population in Lebanon and in northern Israel have been the biggest losers in this senseless cycle of violence that is now exactly one month oldвЂ¦ Civilians were supposed to be spared and in this conflict they are not.
Despite the enormous difficulties, UN humanitarian agencies continue to do what they can and a spokesman in New York said 15 trucks carrying relief items travelled from Beirut to the town of Baalbek this morning, but he confirmed that another convoy was unable to go to Nabitiyeh in the south after failing to get clearance from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
The World Food Programme (WFP) also appealed today for a cessation of hostilities by both sides to allow the passage of desperately needed relief assistance, as food, fresh water and fuel stocks in particular are running dangerously low in Lebanon.
Our aid operation is like a patient starved of oxygen facing paralysis, verging on death if we cant open up our vital supply lines to help an estimated 100,000 people stranded south of the Litani river, said Zlatan Milisic, WFP Emergency Coordinator in Lebanon.
A combination of 70 bridges destroyed and the denial of concurrence on safety by the IDF for aid convoys is crippling WFPs efforts, on behalf of the entire humanitarian community, to organise overland transport of relief items, including food for one quarter of the Lebanese population displaced from their homes, the agency said in a press release.
We are all the more worried, because we have been given to understand that there is no point in WFP even applying for concurrence to go to Tyre, one of the areas of highest concern, Mr. Milisic added.
In terms of shortages inside Lebanon, Mr. Egeland told the reporters in Geneva that the lack of fuel was the single most worrying humanitarian crisis at the moment, adding that it had already run out in four hospitals in the south and the nations electric grid would stop working if no more supplies came in.
He said that according to Lebanese health authorities, at least 1,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict, although this figure could rise because many areas are not accessible and hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes. Israels Government has said that 41 of its civilians have been killed.
The war will not be over unless there is restitution to the hundreds of thousands of victims. There is a national emergency in Lebanon like no other in the history of Lebanon, Mr. Egeland said.
There has to be a comprehensive political solution connected with a security solution that provides security to both Lebanese and Israelis. Nobody wants to go back to a situation with a potential for conflict breaking out at any moment.