Wednesday, August 02, 2006
GREENPEACE + MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES = MEDICAL SUPPLIES FOR LEBANON
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says access to the far south of Lebanon remains difficult, and "it is immensely frustrating that we are not able to reach the places where people are most in need."
Ghandour hospital in Nabatieh, a major health provider in the south of the country, was extensively damaged. All hospitals in the affected area are encountering serious shortages of drugs, fuel, electricity and water supplies.
Christopher Stokes, director of operations for Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) Belgium told Reuters,"For us the major issue is clearly the impossible access in the south. This talk of a humanitarian corridor should not mask the real situation."
"It's a kind of humanitarian alibi because in effect there is no real humanitarian access in the south. And we are deluding ourselves, the international community is deluding itself, if it believes there is," he said in his Beirut office.
Now, Greenpeace has offered to help out by providing use of their ship - the Rainbow Warrior - to transport humanitarian aid.
The following article comes from the web site of Medecins Sans Frontieres.
Rainbow Warrior to transport supplies for MSF's humanitarian work in Lebanon
Greenpeace has offered to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) the use of the Rainbow Warrior for transporting much-needed supplies to Lebanon. The vessel was already in the Mediterranean and has now docked in Larnaca, Cyprus for loading medical supplies.
"We understood that there were major difficulties for humanitarian organisations such as MSF in getting bulk supplies quickly from Cyprus to Beirut," says Bruno Rebelle, Programme Director of Greenpeace International. "We are very happy that we can contribute to a temporary solution to these problems as we are, like anyone else, deeply concerned about the consequences of the fighting in the Middle-East for the civilian population."
MSF currently has almost 100 tonnes of medical materials and other relief supplies waiting for transport in a warehouse in Larnaca, with another 80 tonnes scheduled to arrive there soon. Though some of the supplies get through to Beirut, the bulk of them are stuck in the absence of sufficient transport capacity. Very few boats are available for sailing to Lebanon as there is little guarantee for safe passage.
"We have two major transportation problems," says Jerome Oberreit, operational director for MSF in Brussels. "To date it has been very difficult to move large volumes of relief goods from Beirut to southern Lebanon by road. We rely on cars which we stack with boxes to drive along the severely damaged and insecure road to Tyre. Trucks have been hit by missiles, so truck drivers are reluctant to move into the southern region.
"On top of that, we have major problems in getting our materials to Beirut quickly enough. In the short term, the offer from Greenpeace means a partial solution of one of our two problems."
The Rainbow Warrior has capacity for transporting 40 tonnes, equivalent to 105 pallets. It is not clear yet how many rotations the vessel will make for MSF.
MSF has around 30 international staff working in areas in Lebanon that are severely affected by the conflict. The emphasis in MSF's activities is on supporting Lebanese health workers, setting up additional health posts and mobile clinics where necessary, and distributing basic materials (shelter, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, baby powder milk) to displaced families.