BEIRUT: The United Nations will purchase and deliver emergency fuel to health care and water facilities in Lebanon, the deputy special coordinator for the country has announced.
In a statement, Najat Rochdi said that the deliveries are "in order to mitigate additional suffering and preventing loss of lives."
"I have asked the World Food Program (WFP) in Lebanon, as the global humanitarian lead on logistics, to develop an emergency fuel-supply plan to maintain critical health, water and sanitation services for the most vulnerable populations and prevent the discontinuation of lifesaving activities implemented by humanitarian actors," she said.
The plan, which has been developed with UNICEF, the WHO and organizations on the ground, is set to be rolled out over the course of three months. It will provide fuel to those public hospital and health care providers relied upon by up to 2.1 million of Lebanon's most vulnerable. Fuel will also be delivered to four water plants, which together provide water for 2.3 million people.
"All fuel will be purchased at a nonsubsidized rate and add to the existing national fuel stocks," Rochdi stressed.
The special measures are being introduced as Lebanon confronts an escalating fuel crisis which has led to the closure of hospitals and businesses, and threatens hundreds more. Fuel has been delivered to the bankrupt state by both Iran and Iraq over recent weeks, and the United States has said it is working on a plan to deliver Egyptian natural gas via Jordan and Syria. On Thursday, Lebanon's state electricity company said there could be a nationwide blackout by the end of September if fuel supply issues aren't resolved.
The UN deliveries are only a temporary measure, described in the statement as "exceptional".
“I call on the government to save no effort to implement, at the earliest possible, sustainable solutions to the ongoing energy crisis and to protect the rights of families in Lebanon to access essential services” Rodchi said.