UN officials push for humanitarian access in Lebanon

Friday, August 11, 2006

A U.N. Security Council proposal calls for Hezbollah to move out of the south and into positions north of the Litani River, but it makes no mention of disarmament.

According to U.N. observers, a vicious battle broke out between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters in Khiyam, which Israel says is a Hezbollah stronghold.

The U.N.'s top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, criticised both Israel and Hezbollah for hindering access to southern Lebanon, calling the situation a "disgrace".

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushed the Security Council to come up with a plan by week's end, August 12 to August 13, for ending the conflict. In a statement issued early afternoon, Annan's office said he is working "very intensely" on reaching a resolution acceptable to both Israel and Lebanon, and he repeated his call to end the fighting and "save civilians on both sides from the nightmare they have endured for the past four weeks." "The secretary-general believes that it ought to be possible for the Security Council to adopt a resolution by the end of the week," his office said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations warned of a major food crisis in Lebanon, saying that the displacement of nearly a million people has coincided with the country's main cereal harvest. Of the 915,000 people the U.N. estimates to be internally displaced in Lebanon, 45 percent are children, it said. Fighting has disrupted the delivery of food, fuel and medical supplies and devastated much of the country's infrastructure, and the U.N. said 100,000 people in southern Lebanon won't be receiving vital relief.

The emergency coordinator for the U.N. World Food Program, Zlatan Milisic, said no aid has been able to reach areas south of Sidon. A relief convoy planned for Nabatiya was denied IDF approval, said Milisic. The main points of a resolution to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah have been agreed to by the U.S. and France, diplomatic sources said. U.N. observers described again a vicious battle in Khiyam, which Israel said is a Hezbollah stronghold, during the Israelian advance to Marjayoun.