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Rainbow Warrior to Transport Supplies for MSF's Humanitarian Work in Lebanon
August 2, 2006
Greenpeace has offered Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) the use of its Rainbow Warrior ship for transporting much-needed supplies to Lebanon. The vessel was already in the Mediterranean Sea and has now docked in Larnaca, Cyprus for loading medical supplies.
"We understood that there were major difficulties for humanitarian organizations such as MSF in getting bulk supplies quickly from Cyprus to Beirut," says Bruno Rebelle, program director of Greenpeace International. "We are very happy that we can contribute to a temporary solution to these problems as we are, like anyone else, deeply concerned about the consequences of the fighting in the Middle East for the civilian population."
MSF currently has nearly 100 tons of medical materials and other relief supplies waiting for transport in a warehouse in Larnaca, with another 80 tons scheduled to arrive there soon. Though some supplies get through to Beirut, the bulk is stuck in place in the absence of sufficient transport capacity. Very few boats are available for sailing to Lebanon as there is little guarantee of safe passage.
"We have two major transportation problems," says Jerome Oberreit, operational director for MSF. "To date it has been very difficult to move large volumes of relief goods from Beirut to southern Lebanon by road. We rely on cars which we stack with boxes to drive along the severely damaged and insecure road to Tyre; trucks have been hit by missiles so truck drivers are reluctant to move into the southern region. On top of that, we have major problems in getting our materials to Beirut quickly enough. In the short term, the offer from Greenpeace means a partial solution of one of our two problems."
The Rainbow Warrior has capacity for transporting 40 tons, the equivalent of 105 pallets. It is not clear yet how many journeys the vessel will make for MSF.
MSF has approximately 30 international staff working in areas in Lebanon that are severely affected by the conflict. The emphasis in MSF's activities is on supporting Lebanese health workers, setting up additional health posts and mobile clinics where necessary, and distributing basic materials (shelter items, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, powdered milk) to displaced families.