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WFP to End Lebanon Operation in October


The World Food Program (WFP) says it will wind up its food assistance program in Lebanon by the end of October because of the country's rapid recovery from the war with Israel. A two-week assessment to evaluate the country's food needs finds the situation has greatly improved.

The World Food Program says Lebanon soon will be food secure. It says the commercial sector is bouncing back more quickly than expected, making a withdrawal from the country possible.

WFP spokeswoman, Christiane Berthiaume, says even the southern part of the country, which was heavily bombarded during the war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia, is recovering quickly.

"The conclusion of the reports [is] that there is enough food in the country and that the level, the nutritional level of the people is quite high, it is quite good, even in the south of the country," she said. "The market is showing encouraging signs of recovery. The prices are not too high."

The World Food Program attributes the relatively quick recovery to the short four-week duration of the war and to the lifting of the Israeli naval blockade. This is making it possible for aid agencies to bring in large amounts of food and other relief supplies. It also is allowing Lebanon to resume its commercial activities.

At the height of the war, the World Food Program was feeding more than 700,000 people. That number now has been cut in half. Although the general outlook is good, Berthiaume says some population groups are still vulnerable and in need of food aid.

"More specifically, daily workers, fishermen, and also some farmers - those who grow fruit, vegetables or tobacco. They will still need help. So, WFP will still distribute food aid to 350,000 people until the 24th of October. After that, we will scale down our operation and close our offices," she added.

Berthiaume says the World Food Program will keep an eye on the situation in Lebanon, even after it withdraws. But she says the agency believes local communities will be in a position to help those who continue to face hardships.

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