Aid groups have been unable to deliver supplies to southern Lebanon due to Israel’s and Hezbollah’s failure to assure their safety.  

For nearly three weeks the UN World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross have had to delay delivery of supplies to residents of southern Lebanon because they have been unable to get Israel’s and Hezbollah’s consent due to security concerns.

The World Food Programme (WFP) had planned to send four convoys from Beirut, three to the south and one to the north, but had to postpone two of them because neither Israel nor Hezbollah gave the needed assurances, the UN agency’s spokeswoman in Geneva, Christine Berthiaume said on Tuesday.

ICRC convoys loaded with food, water and medicine were also barred from leaving Tyre in southern Lebanon for the same reason, ICRC spokeswoman Annick Bouvier said.

"We did not receive the green light," Bouvier said.

Foreign aid has been able to enter Lebanon through the Beirut airport, from the seaport of Tyre and by land from Syria, but the most damaged areas of Lebanon lie in the south, where aid has not been allowed through.

This news came after Israel announced early Monday the slowing of air strikes for 48 hours including a period of 24-hours for aid workers to reach the residents of southern Lebanon.  

According to the 48-hour agreement on humanitarian aid the agencies are to dispatch to their planned locations only after receiving the consent of Hezbollah and Israel.  However, neither party has been able to guarantee their security.

In Brussels, external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner
said, "The 48-hour agreement on humanitarian aid which was called has not worked and has not been adhered to by either side. This is very disappointing and shows the depth of the problem.”

"The first priority must be to get the 48-hour truce working properly to get aid in and then get a ceasefire," Waldner added.

The continued destruction of roads and bridges have also hampered their efforts.  

The prolonged Israeli offensive has "systematically destroyed almost the entire road network", Mona Hammam, United Nations resident coordinator for Lebanon, reported.

According to a senior Israeli cabinet member, the army needed up to two more weeks to finish its offensive.  But Amer Daoudi, WEP emergency coordinator, stressed, "We have no time to waste – they are running out of food, water and medicine."

Sourced from Al-Jazeera.net and BBC News

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