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UN warns Lebanon’s fuel shortage puts millions at risk amid pandemic

This picture shows a Coral petrol station in the Lebanese capital Beirut, on August 19, 2021, hours after the oil company said it would stop supplying its gas stations with fuel amid severe shortages that have brought the country to a halt. (AFP photo)

A United Nations official for Lebanon says millions of people in the Arab country are at risk because of an acute fuel shortage that has caused disruption to electricity and water supplies to hospitals and households.

Najat Rochdi, who serves as Deputy Special Coordinator Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, said on Thursday that fuel shortage could complicate health and water management problems in Lebanon as the country grapples with a serious outbreak of the coronavirus.

“With a new wave of coronavirus infections, the fuel crisis could exacerbate the health situation and the continuing shortage may affect the provision of life-saving treatments,” said Rochdi in a statement covered by Arabic newspaper Raialyoum.

The statement came hours after the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah said that it had coordinated deliveries of fuel cargoes from Iran to Lebanon.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned against any sabotage act against tankers carrying Iranian fuel to Lebanon, saying Hezbollah views the tankers as the Lebanese territory.

Media sources on Thursday reveled that notable Shia businessmen in Lebanon had paid for fuel purchases from Iran, meaning that the consignments did not belong to Hezbollah.

That comes as many in Lebanon view the fuel shortage and other economic problems as a product of constant political wrangling in the country.

Rochdi said in her Thursday statement that Lebanon’s fuel shortage needed an immediate response while insisting that the UN would welcome any effort to alleviate the crisis.

“The stakes are simply too high. Everyone must work together to find a sustainable and fair solution that serves everyone’s needs and protects the health and safety of communities,” said Rochdi, according to a translation of her remarks.

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