USAID Just Pledged $64 Million As Emergency Food Assistance To Lebanon

Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Wednesday that the United States will be providing an additional $64 Million as humanitarian aid to Lebanon, targeting more than 740,000 people.

The increase in food insecurity in Lebanon has emerged amid the current economic crisis and as the country is still reeling from the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The situation is exacerbated by Putin’s war against Ukraine due to Lebanon’s reliance on imported wheat, primarily from Ukraine,” USAID stated, adding that it “remains concerned that increasing prices of staple foods and fuel in Lebanon will worsen food insecurity.”

According to the press release, this funding will go through the UN World Food Program providing emergency food assistance. It will include rice, chickpeas, pasta, lentils, and more non-perishable items “in addition to vouchers for purchasing food staples from local markets, thereby supporting the Lebanese economy.”

The organization concluded its press release with a call for international donors to help out: “The United States remains deeply concerned about the rising humanitarian needs in Lebanon and continues to urge other donors to increase their contributions for this response.”

In January, USAID pledged $40 million in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people affected by the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, as well as the pandemic.

The newest funding comes now as an addition to the various projects supported by the United States in Lebanon. These include a $57 million agriculture project for the development of rural economies via the agri-food industry and a $29 million project to deliver reliable energy across the country.

However, Russia’s war on Ukraine has added more problems on Lebanon to bear, notably with food security.

Lebanon, which lost its main grain silos in the Beirut Blast, has been already struggling to keep up with its supply of wheat, mainly from Ukraine which provides it with more than 50% of its wheat.

Its current wheat reserves won’t last long. The Economy Ministry had declared back in February that they were enough for about 2 months, with the probable cut of some local productions needing wheat, like croissants and cakes, etc.

Lebanon has been attempting to secure deals with other sources, namely India which was the first to respond with a final answer on quantities. However, Lebanon’s Central Bank is reportedly delaying payment to import the needed wheat.

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