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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

21 July 2006

Food crisis in Lebanon

A humanitarian crisis unfolds as the conflict between Israel and political factions in Lebanon escalates. Food, fuel and medical supplies are disrupted, and large parts of the country's infrastructure lay in ruins. An estimated 500 000 Lebanese have already been displaced, and a further 200 000 are estimated to have fled into neighboring countries.

Protracted civil strife between 1975 and 1990 already had a devastating impact on economic and social development in all sectors. The economy had been stagnating, with low foreign investment, a worsening balance of payments and an external debt estimated at 165 percent of GDP.

The current conflict coincides with the harvesting season (June/July) of annual crops. Earlier this year, FAO’s forecast of the 2006 total cereal output stood at about 145 000 tonnes, an average level. However, population displacements and rising insecurity are expected to disrupt harvesting and lead to lower production. 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. Imports of cereals -- mainly wheat -- in 2006/07 (July/June) are forecast at some 800 000 tonnes. However, damage to roads and bridges has almost completely disrupted the food supply chain. This, together with massive population displacements, is clearly an ingredient for a major food crisis.