Australia’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs visits Lebanon, reaffirms commitment to address food insecurity and humanitarian needs

NNA -nbsp;Today,nbsp;thenbsp;Honourablenbsp;Assistant Ministernbsp;ofnbsp;Foreign Affairs of Australia,nbsp;Tim Watts MPnbsp;visitednbsp;projects supported by the Government of Australianbsp;withnbsp;UN Women and thenbsp;United NationsWorld Food Programme (WFP) innbsp;Lebanon. UN Women and WFPrsquo;s operations continuenbsp;to respond to increased humanitariannbsp;and developmentnbsp;needsnbsp;across the countrynbsp;including poverty, inequality,and food insecurity. nbsp;

nbsp;Honnbsp;Tim Watts, and the accompanying delegation visited two UN Women- led initiatives supported by the Government of Australia. The first, a production unit of high quality and affordable sanitary products,nbsp;producednbsp;by women for women, in Beirut, in partnership with ACTED and local partnernbsp;Nusaned.

nbsp;The visit continued with a tour of the lsquo;Access Kitchen,rsquo;nbsp;anbsp;first of its kind women-led community kitchen in Lebanon supported by UN Womennbsp;in partnership withnbsp;the Lebanese Union for People with Physical Disabilities (LUPD)nbsp;that is creatingnbsp;sustainablenbsp;employment opportunities for women with disabilities. The delegation gained a first-hand insight into the inclusive and accessible kitchen space and listened to women employed in the kitchen reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for women and persons with disabilities in Lebanon. nbsp;

nbsp;ldquo;Australia is proud to partner with UN Women in Lebanon to empower women through access to employment,rdquo; Australian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watts said.nbsp;

ldquo;These projects, implemented in partnership with UN Women and localnbsp;organisations, provide women with the means to support themselves and their families.rdquo;

Women,nbsp;childrennbsp;and people with disabilities are disproportionally affected by the economic crisis in Lebanon.nbsp;

nbsp;nbsp;Through the support of Australia, the two initiatives led by UN Women and partners will reach more than 22,700 women and family members, and over 38,000 sanitary products and hot meals will be distributed to those in need. ldquo;Women and girls with disabilities continue to face exceptional challenges and disadvantages in Lebanon which hinder their equal participation in society. UN Women remains committed to supporting women and girls in all their diversity and to ensuring that their rights and agency are fully realized.nbsp;Thank you tonbsp;thenbsp;Australiannbsp;people and government for their supportnbsp;that has enablednbsp;creationnbsp;ofnbsp;empowering spaces for women with disabilities where they can gain critical skills and sustainable incomerdquo; affirmed Gielannbsp;Elmessiri, UN Women Representative in Lebanon. nbsp;

Between April 2022 and December 2023,nbsp;the Government of Australia has contributednbsp;AUDnbsp;2.5nbsp;million,nbsp;towardsnbsp;UNnbsp;Womenprojects, in Lebanon.nbsp;

Hon Tim Wattsrsquo; MPnbsp;visitednbsp;WFPrsquo;snbsp;largest warehouse in Lebanon storing food parcelsnbsp;distributed monthly to familiesnbsp;impacted by the economic crisis.nbsp;WFPnbsp;welcomed a contribution of AUD 7 million, from the Government of Australia,nbsp;to provide life-savingnbsp;assistanceto vulnerable familiesnbsp;across the country.

quot;I have visited families who continue to make increasingly difficult trade-offs to cope with inflation and the decline in purchasing power,quot; says Abdallah Alwardat, WFP Lebanon Representative and Country Director. quot;We are grateful to the people and Government of Australia for their continued support and trust in WFPrsquo;s work to reach the most vulnerable people. We remain committed to standing by all people in Lebanon through our programmes and capacity strengthening of national institutions.quot;nbsp;

Peoplersquo;s purchasing power continues to rapidlynbsp;decline,nbsp;and familiesrsquo; coping capacities have been stretched to the limit. The price of the food basket, containing staple food items, has increased by 48 percent since the beginning of this year alone.nbsp;

ldquo;Australiarsquo;s contribution to the UN World Food Programme will help support Lebanese, Syrian refugees and other vulnerable populations in Lebanon who are struggling amid the current crisis, providing access to food and other basic necessities,rdquo;nbsp;Australian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watts said.

ldquo;Australia continues to stand with Lebanon in response to these challenges, having provided AUD 133 million in humanitarian assistance since 2017.rdquo;

This assistance can only temporarily alleviate these hardships.nbsp;Long term solutions to Lebanonrsquo;s economic crisis will require broad reforms by the Lebanese Government.

Over the past four years and since the onset of the financial crisis, Australiarsquo;s contributions have helped WFP support Lebanese families with monthly food parcels and Syrian refugees with cash assistance. Australia, together with other donors are key to maintaining essential humanitarian support to Lebanon and is a significant partner to WFP.

Australiarsquo;s new contribution brings their total support towards WFP in Lebanon tonbsp;AUD 25nbsp;million since 2019. –nbsp;