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UN increases food aid budget to feed a third of Lebanon

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BEIRUT — Lebanon’s acting prime minister and the United Nations’ World Food Program said on Tuesday it has stepped up its food aid to the struggling country, effectively feeding a third of the crisis-hit population.

The small Mediterranean country is in the throes of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. Three-quarters of the population has plunged into poverty since the end of 2019. The Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value against the US dollar, and the country is struggling with one of the world’s worst food price inflations.

Lebanon has a population of about 6 million people, including more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled the war-torn country in the past decade.

The WFP once allocated $700 million in food aid to Lebanon each year, increasing that to $1.3 billion by 2022. Now it has earmarked $5.4 billion for the next three years, increasing its annual food aid budget by $500 million. is increased.

The new budget will allow WFP to feed about 2 million people, evenly split between Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese.

“Food prices in Lebanon are 16 times higher than they were in October 2019 before the onset of the current deep financial crisis,” WFP spokesperson Rasha Abou Dargham told The Associated Press. “Family incomes are not enough to keep up with skyrocketing prices for food and other basic necessities.”

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, after meeting with WFP Lebanon Country Director Abdallah Alwardat, said in a statement that he had pushed to increase the number of Lebanese benefiting from WFP food aid.

The WFP delivers food parcels to families and works with farmers and small businesses, as well as working with the Lebanese government to implement an emergency relief program for vulnerable Lebanese families currently funded by a World Bank loan.

Earlier this month, the United States announced it would provide the crisis-ravaged country with $80.5 million for food aid and solar-powered pumping stations. In May, the World Bank approved a $150 million loan to stabilize bread prices in Lebanon.

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