The UN is aiding the Lebanese government following the two deadly explosions in Beirut by releasing emergency funds, assessing needs and planning alternative aid delivery, a spokesman said.
Already $9 million in emergency aid has been released locally for hospitals and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is expected to release additional funds soon, Xinhua news agency quoted Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as saying on Thursday.
Equivalent of 500 Hospital Beds Lost
The World Health Organization reported three hospitals were inoperable and two more have sustained substantial damage, the spokesman said. The equivalent of 500 hospital beds has been lost due to damage. Najat Rochdi, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, authorized the funds from the UN's Lebanese Humanitarian Fund.
A special international appeal for additional funds is also anticipated, the spokesman told correspondents at a regular, virtual briefing. Haq said the UN will follow up "to make sure that all of the aid that we distribute goes to where it's needed"
The OCHA is sending emergency teams that include experts from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group and UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team to assist with the emergency response.
"We do have teams who are specialists in search and rescue who are on the ground for the current phase, which involves trying to find the people who are still missing following the blast," he added.
"With the Beirut Port inoperable, the UN and its partners are looking to adjust logistic networks to ensure sustained operations," Haq said. "Humanitarian materials will likely be redirected through the Tripoli Port."
Adverse Effect On Supply Chain
The port, where the blasts took place on Tuesday killing 135 people and injuring thousands of others, in the north of the country is a little more than 80 km north of Beirut. "The change may have adverse consequences for some supply chains, as Tripoli Port has a lower capacity than Beirut Port," he said. "Beirut International Airport remains open for passenger and cargo flights," he added.
The leadership of the UN Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) visited the Maritime Task Force ship that was damaged in the explosion on Tuesday and visited the injured peacekeepers from the vessel who were injured in the blast, the spokesman said. A total of 23 UNIFIL peacekeepers from Bangladesh had been admitted to hospitals, of whom 18 have been discharged, he said. Two peacekeepers remain in critical but stable condition.