UN aid convoys leave for southern Lebanon as extent of destruction becomes

“In a matter of a few days, we have managed to determine the immediate needs of some 30 most affected villages in the area,” said Andrew Duggin, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) engineer in the southern city of Tyre. UNHCR has begun an extensive returnee monitoring process in the south.”These villagers have suffered severe destruction – some say, worse than seen in Bosnia – and will as a first priority be targeted for immediate assistance. The whole south is, however, severely handicapped because of a lack of electricity and water, the destruction of infrastructure and the presence of cluster bombs.”UNHCR has set up a base in Tyre and started trucking in kitchen sets, tents, blankets, diapers and other essentials from Beirut, so that it can provide these items quickly to people in need in the south. Flights are also bringing supplies into Beirut from Amman, the agency said.Five overland humanitarian convoys left the Lebanese capital today for the south, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, including trucks carrying water from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP) and essentials from other agencies as well.The need for water is increasingly a concern throughout the area, as is public health, OCHA said, adding that the UN’s Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) is providing maps of cluster bomb attack sites and passable roads in southern Lebanon, because many areas are littered with unexploded ordnance that have already claimed lives.In terms of the UN’s overall $165 million Flash Appeal for Lebanon, it said that so far the international community has committed just under $93.5 million, or almost 60 per cent of the funds needed, while an additional $4.7 million has been received in pledges.