Global Food Crisis: Lebanon Receives Aid From Austria

Lifestyle & TravelFood & Drink ♦ Published: July 28, 2022; 09:38 ♦ (Vindobona)

By intervening in Ukraine, the Russian war of aggression and resulting food crisis have exacerbated the already existing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. Financial resources from the Foreign Disaster Fund have recently been released by the Austrian Federal Government to assist on the ground in order to help.

Rising grain prices are putting aid organisations in Lebanon under severe pressure. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / US Army, Public domain

The already existing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon has been exacerbated by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and the resulting food crisis.

Aid organisations on the ground are confronted with the situation of not being able to make ends meet due to sharply rising prices for basic foodstuffs, such as wheat, and are urgently appealing for help. Financial resources are urgently needed to provide the people affected by the humanitarian crisis with the basic necessities.

To help, the Austrian Federal Government recently decided to release financial resources from the Foreign Disaster Fund to assist on the ground. A total of 3 million euros will be made available.

"The humanitarian situation in Lebanon is largely dependent on food security. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the situation has therefore worsened considerably. We must quickly step up aid on the ground, especially now, also to prevent further waves of migration towards Europe," said Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who also spoke with Lebanese President Michael Aoun about the situation on the ground and Austrian support during his visit to Lebanon a fortnight ago.

In Lebanon, more than 3.2 million people, one third of whom are children, rely on humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

There are three major problems in this country: food, clean drinking water, and adequate sanitation. 77 percent of households do not have food or money to buy food, while 99 percent of Syrian refugee households do not have enough money to buy food.

Around 1.5 million Syrian refugees have been taken in by Lebanon, with a population of 6.8 million, since the war began in Syria. This influx has become an enormous burden on the entire infrastructure. Basic health care is already on the verge of collapse.

"Lebanon is in a dangerous downward spiral, which is accelerating due to the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine. The explosion in the port of Beirut two years ago had already destroyed thousands of tonnes of grain stocks in silos. Lebanon imports up to 80 per cent of its grain needs, and these vital supplies now hardly reach the country due to the Russian aggression. It is important to counteract this and to help those people who need it most via the World Food Programme. The dramatic developments in Lebanon have the potential to destabilise the entire region, and we must do everything in our power to prevent this," said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, referring to Austria's humanitarian tradition.

With almost three quarters of Lebanese living below the poverty line, the country is already in deep crisis. Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, they have been faced with additional problems of food and energy shortages.

As a result of the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa region, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates an additional 71 million USD in needs per month.

Austria will contribute 2.5 million euros to the World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure that refugees receive the most effective assistance on the ground and close to home, and will also contribute half a million euros to Austrian non-governmental organizations working on the ground.

Last year, Austria already provided 5 million euros in humanitarian aid to ensure basic health care, among other things.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs