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BEIRUT - Lebanon will soon be food secure again and its commercial sector is bouncing back quicker than expected, paving the way for the withdrawal of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) from the country by the end of October, according to a WFP food assessment and nutrition report issued today.

The report, compiled from the findings of a two-week assessment mission across Lebanon at the end of August and beginning of September, also noted that while some parts of the population still suffer the effects of war, foodstuffs are available at affordable prices and nutritional levels are good throughout the country. A major determining factor in the restoration of normality was the early return home of the majority of the displaced.

Even in the south of Lebanon - the area worst hit by the recent conflict - consumers are managing. Limited product choice and price hikes have failed to close down the market, which shows encouraging signs of recovery from the combined effects of more than a month of hostilities and the just-lifted Israeli naval blockade.

“All the indications were that the situation was improving fast after the end of the fighting but, until the conclusion of this assessment, we didn’t have enough hard evidence,” said WFP’s Emergency Coordinator in Lebanon, Zlatan Milisic. “Now we have data giving a clear picture of people’s food needs over the coming months. The general outlook is good and confirms our view that we should not stay in Lebanon a moment longer than necessary.”

The assessment team noted that some population groups, however, are still vulnerable and face continuing hardship. They include daily wage labourers, fishermen and some farmers in the south of the country, particularly growers of fruit, vegetables and cash crops such as tobacco. Major factors in sustaining people in these categories will be the levels of support offered by local communities and remittances sent by family members.

The report recommends that WFP continue its food assistance programme to those most in need until 24 October – the date that will mark the end of the three-month emergency operation launched by the agency after the outbreak of war in July.

“WFP came to Lebanon at the invitation of the Government,” said Milisic. “We have done our best to assist the Government and the people of the country - and we have been successful. Even at the height of the fighting, we were operational, bringing relief supplies to those areas we could access. Now the situation is stabilizing and people are resuming their lives, it’s time for us to say goodbye. I have to say, it’s a very positive development for us to be able to close a food aid programme and leave.”

WFP has reached more than 700,000 people since the start of its Emergency Operation in July and is now targeting some 350,000 of the most affected people in Lebanon, the majority of them in the south of the country and in the southern suburbs of the capital. In all, WFP has distributed more than 7,250 metric tons of food (an estimated 480,000 monthly rations) and helped the Government of Lebanon import 12,300 tons of wheat during the blockade period.

In addition to its emergency food aid mission, WFP organised logistics operations on behalf of the UN humanitarian community in Lebanon. This involved assisting its UN and other partners in consolidating and transporting relief supplies by land, sea or air. Among the many non-food items that WFP transported into and within Lebanon were fuel, shelter material, water, and hygiene and medical equipment. In all, WFP has moved some 1,900 tons of humanitarian non-food items.

To date, WFP has confirmed contributions of US$10.8 million for the Emergency Operation. Donors include Germany (US$2.6 million), Saudi Arabia (US$2 million), Australia (US$1.04 million), the European Commission (US$1.27 million), France (US$1.27 million), Canada (US$885,000), the United States (US$571,000), Japan (US$500,000), Luxembourg (US$314,000), Denmark (US$168,000), Greece (US$179,000), Singapore (US$25,000).

To date, WFP has confirmed contributions of US17.8 million for its Special Operation for Logistics. Donors include the European Commission (US$3.8 million), the United States (US$2.8 million), the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (US$2.5 million), the Netherlands (US$1.8 million), France (US$1.27 million), Australia (US$1.24 million), Norway (US$1.1 million), the United Kingdom (US746,000), Denmark (US$673,000), Canada (US$664,000), Spain (US$628,000) and Germany (US$510,000).

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People. Visit our website:

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address:
David Orr, WFP/Beirut, Mob +963-98-4044-83, +961-70973964
Mia Turner, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +20-2-5281730, Mob. +20-122455769
Brenda Barton, Deputy Director of Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)
Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304
Ellen Gustafson, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-917 367 5070, Mob. +1917 6171276,
Greg Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 207 240 9001, Cell. +44-7968008474