12 September 2006 With last week’s lifting of the Israeli air and sea blockade of Lebanon, the United Nations said today that air and sea traffic had begun returning to levels seen before the month-long conflict, while the UN food agency announced it would conduct a survey this month to assess reconstruction needs.
“The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, since the lifting of the Israeli blockade, air traffic is quickly resuming to pre-conflict levels [and] the lifting of the sea blockade has allowed commercial vessels to return as well,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
He said that eight ships have now docked in Beirut’s port, carrying wheat, cars and raw products for manufacturing, although import and export activity is not expected to return to normal in the country for another three or four months.
“Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says it will conduct a damage and needs assessment mission in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors this month,” Mr. Dujarric added, referring to a Rome-based UN agency.
Earlier this month international donors pledged $940 million to help Lebanon reconstruct following damage caused by the 34 days of fighting between Hizbollah and Israel. UN and other agencies continue to assist with humanitarian supplies to those in need, particularly in devastated southern parts of the country. It is estimated that the country suffered around $3.6 billion in physical damage alone during the fighting.