Conflict leading to major food crisis in Lebanon
Food supply and harvest disrupted; displaced population hardest hit
25 July 2006, Rome - Rising insecurity and damage to roads and bridges have interrupted the food supply chain in Lebanon, which relies on food imports for around 90 percent of its cereal needs, FAO said today. Moreover, population displacement from the escalating conflict is likely to disrupt the country’s main cereal harvest, according to the U.N. agency.
Recipe for major food crisis
“These factors combined provide the recipe for a major food crisis,” said Henri Josserand, Chief of FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System.
“Domestic cereal output usually covers only about 10 percent of consumption requirements, and the country depends heavily on imports for such essential food items as wheat, rice, sugar and milk powder,” he added.
Earlier this year, FAO’s forecast of Lebanon’s 2006 total cereal output stood at about 145 000 tonnes, an average level, but the Organization expects this figure to be revised downward, as some of the crops lie in areas where fighting is occurring.
Imports of cereals – mainly wheat – between July 2006 and June 2007 were forecast at some 800 000 tonnes. But food, fuel and medical supplies have been disrupted by the fighting, and large parts of the country's infrastructure lie in ruins.
An estimated 500 000 Lebanese have been displaced, and a further 200 000 are estimated to have fled into neighbouring countries.
Even before the current conflict, the Lebanese economy had been struggling, with low foreign investment, a worsening balance of payments and an external debt estimated in 2005 at 165 percent of gross domestic product.
Insecurity hinders needs assessment
“FAO has been in touch with the Ministry of Agriculture, but the fighting has made assessment of the country’s agriculture needs difficult,” said Anne M. Bauer, Director of FAO’s Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. “FAO is ready to field an assessment team to the region as soon as the security situation allows.”
The U.N. yesterday launched an appeal for nearly $150 million to meet the immediate needs of the affected populations for food, health care, logistics, water and sanitation, protection and common services.
Information Officer, FAO
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