Who is coming to Lebanon’s aid?

Hillary Wicai Jul 20, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Condoleeza Rice will go to the Middle East next week. The State Department made the announcement this afternoon. She won’t visit Lebanon, though. Which is facing a growing humanitarian crisis. Marketplace’s Hillary Wicai reports getting aid on the ground will be a tricky thing.

HILLARY WICAI: The UN World Food Programme reports displaced families in Lebanon are finding it increasingly hard to meet basic food needs. So where’s the help? World Food spokesperson Jennifer Parmelee says the organization has a team on the ground in Lebanon assessing the dangerous and fluid conditions.

JENNIFER PARMELEE: Right now we cannot send out convoys throughout Lebanon to bring food because they could be subject to armed attack from the skies or wherever. So we need to have some kind of safe passage, some guarantees.

Human Rights Watch reports missiles struck a convoy of trucks carrying food and medicine from the Red Crescent Society on Monday. This afternoon an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said that Israel has agreed to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Lebanon. Still, specific routes of safe passage need to identified.

PARMELEE: Roads have been disrupted, bridges have been blown up. It’s very difficult now to get around the country.

Meanwhile some countries are beginning to pledge aid. The EU says it will give about $12 million. France will send water, generators and medicines. Saudi Arabia sent $50 million, the UAE $20 million. Steve Radelet is with the Center for Global Development. He says it’s complicated for the US because Hezbollah is in power in the area effected, and the US has deemed Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

STEVE RADELET: It’s going to make the US a little more reluctant to go in there until they can figure out who they can provide the money to make sure it goes to the people that we really want to target it to.

A State Department spokesman said the US is in close contact with the UN about the idea of creating a corridor so humanitarian aid can flow into Lebanon.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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