Australia’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs visits Lebanon, reaffirms commitment to address food insecurity and humanitarian needs
UN Women and the World Food Programme Joint News Release
BEIRUT - Today, the Honourable Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Tim Watts MP visited projects supported by the Government of Australia with UN Women and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Lebanon. UN Women and WFP’s operations continue to respond to increased humanitarian and development needs across the country including poverty, inequality, and food insecurity.
Hon 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, produced by women for women, in Beirut, in partnership with ACTED and local partner Nusaned.
The visit continued with a tour of the ‘Access Kitchen,’ a first of its kind women-led community kitchen in Lebanon supported by UN Women in partnership with the Lebanese Union for People with Physical Disabilities (LUPD) that is creating sustainable 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.
"Australia is proud to partner with UN Women in Lebanon to empower women through access to employment," Australian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watts said.
"These projects, implemented in partnership with UN Women and local organisations, provide women with the means to support themselves and their families."
Women, children and people with disabilities are disproportionally affected by the economic crisis in Lebanon.
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. “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. Thank you to the Australian people and government for their support that has enabled creation of empowering spaces for women with disabilities where they can gain critical skills and sustainable income” affirmed Gielan Elmessiri, UN Women Representative in Lebanon.
Between April 2022 and December 2023, the Government of Australia has contributed AUD 2.5 million, towards UN Women projects, in Lebanon.
Hon Tim Watts’ MP visited WFP’s largest warehouse in Lebanon storing food parcels distributed monthly to families impacted by the economic crisis. WFP welcomed a contribution of AUD 7 million, from the Government of Australia, to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable families across the country.
"I have visited families who continue to make increasingly difficult trade-offs to cope with inflation and the decline in purchasing power," says Abdallah Alwardat, WFP Lebanon Representative and Country Director. "We are grateful to the people and Government of Australia for their continued support and trust in WFP’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."
People’s purchasing power continues to rapidly decline, and families’ 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.
"Australia’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," Australian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watts said.
"Australia continues to stand with Lebanon in response to these challenges, having provided AUD 133 million in humanitarian assistance since 2017."
This assistance can only temporarily alleviate these hardships. Long term solutions to Lebanon’s economic crisis will require broad reforms by the Lebanese Government.
Over the past four years and since the onset of the financial crisis, Australia’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.
Australia’s new contribution brings their total support towards WFP in Lebanon to AUD 25 million since 2019.
Roula Rached, UN Women Lebanon
About UN Women:
UN Women, grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; the empowerment of women; and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security. Placing women’s rights at the centre of all its efforts, UN Women leads and coordinates United Nations system efforts to ensure that commitments on gender equality and gender mainstreaming translate into action throughout the world. It provides strong and coherent leadership in support of Member States’ priorities and efforts, building effective partnerships with civil society and other relevant actors.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.
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