Benn in Beirut Says Humanitarian Access is the Urgent Priority as UK Announces New Emergency Help for Lebanon

Hilary Benn in Beirut today called on all sides to abide by the ceasefire so that urgently needed humanitarian assistance can get through to the hundreds of thousands of affected Lebanese people.

He also announced a further £6m in UK aid, which includes money for water and sanitation, and for helping humanitarian supplies to get to the south of the country, through the provision of emergency bridging and mine-clearing activities.

Speaking from Lebanon where Mr Benn is making a first-hand assessment of the situation, he said:

“Lebanon faces a humanitarian emergency. Nearly one million people have had to flee their homes and some are in urgent need of basic supplies, although people are now starting to return. Infrastructure has been badly damaged and aid has struggled to get through. I am particularly concerned about the 100,000 people or so who have been caught up in the fighting south of the Litani river.

“It is crucial that all sides abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and, as a priority, allow safe access for humanitarian organisations to provide help to those who urgently need it. The best way to do this is to make sure the ceasefire holds.”

Mr Benn continued:

“We all need to work urgently with the Government of Lebanon to ensure we provide the right aid for immediate needs. That is why the UK, which is already one of the leading bilateral donors, is making an additional £6 million available today. This will assist thousands displaced from their homes, as well as provide help to get the aid to those who’ve been cut off by the fighting.

“The additional £6 million ($11.4m) I am making available today will bring the total UK contribution to the relief effort to £12.5m ($23.75m). UK funding so far has helped provide and deliver emergency food and water supplies, sanitation and expertise through a range of international organisations, the UN and European Commission. This new funding will help improve humanitarian access, including emergency bridging and mine clearance. The UK continues to monitor the situation and we stand ready to do more as needed.”

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