The United Nations has announced that it has allocated $10 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon to help the cash-strapped nation buy vital fuel to power hospitals and water stations.
“Lebanon faces profound uncertainty. The humanitarian community, though, is resolved to assist all vulnerable populations, whether Lebanese, refugees or migrants,” The Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Martin Griffiths tweeted on Wednesday during a visit to Beirut.
On Tuesday, OCHA expressed that a $6 million allocation from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund was planned to help 65 hospitals, primary health care centers, dispensaries and medical cold storage facilities.
The agency also announced that an additional $4 million would be set aside for health centers as well as water stations and four water facilities that serve more than two-thirds of Lebanon’s population.
“2.3 million people across Lebanon will receive this aid by making sure there is enough fuel to keep water stations functioning,” OCHA stated. In a statement, it also added that “the fuel shortage, a result of the ongoing socio-economic and political crises, is jeopardizing the availability of healthcare and drinking water for nearly everyone in Lebanon.”
Lebanon’s economic crisis has stripped the national currency of most of its value and left four out of five inhabitants below the poverty line.
The crisis has deepened further when the central bank started removing subsidies in order to shore up its dwindling foreign currency reserves, making the cost of fuel imports more expensive. The decision has led to shortages of almost everything, with power cuts lasting up to 22 hours a day and fuel for private generators increasingly scarce. Many hospitals have been forced to scale back operations because of the shortages.
Elsewhere, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has repeatedly warned that a near-total shutdown of the water supply in Lebanon could threaten more than four million people in the country.