The UN World Food Program has warned that hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence in Lebanon were finding it increasingly difficult to find food.
"Damage to roads and bridges has almost completely disrupted the food supply chain, hurting large numbers of the displaced," said Amer Daoudi, the leader of a WFP assessment unit now in Beirut.
The Rome-based UN organization said in a statement it is "increasingly concerned" about those cut off by the conflict, particularly in southern Lebanon, where fighting between the Hezbollah militia and Israeli forces is at its fiercest.
"We ask all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality and impartiality of aid workers and to allow unfettered access to all areas, to allow us to reach these very needy people as quickly as possible," said Naila Sabra, WFP's Regional Director for the Middle East and Central Asia on Wednesday.
"If the security situation continues to deteriorate, many more people will leave their homes and need humanitarian assistance," Sabra added.
An estimated 500,000 people have fled their homes during a week of fighting. and the WFP says many are sheltering in public buildings such as schools and community centers.
"Dwindling supplies and unsafe roads are compounding the problem of access to food.
"WFP is finalizing an emergency plan to reach the hardest hit people, most of them women and children. This will form part of a planned UN Flash Appeal to be issued in the next few days," the statement said.
'We have enough food and water for five more days'
The situation is especially bad in Tyre, located some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border with Israel. The heavy Israeli bombardments on south Lebanon have severely disrupted daily life in the city. According to residents, most of the civilians injured in the attacks have not been able to reach hospitals, and food supplies are delayed due to the road conditions.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has not been able to assist the wounded and collect the bodies, as its soldiers are wary of traveling on the roads for fear of IDF bombings.
The UNIFIL soldiers are even finding it difficult to evacuate their comrades’ bodies: Two UNIFIL members were killed Tuesday during an aerial attack south of Tyre; their bodies have not been cleared as of yet.
Food and medical supplies are running out at the Tyre hospital.
“We have enough food and water for five more days,” hospital director Ahmed Maruva said.
Many residents of the area are escaping to a Tyre seaside resort, a thriving tourist hotspot in normal times.
Most of those staying at the resort hold foreign passports, and the UN is trying to coordinate their evacuation.