Severe fuel shortages and power cuts have forced many hospitals in Lebanon to scale back operations. Some $4 million of the total is for water stations and facilities that serve more than two-thirds of the country’s population.

A nurse checks a patient undergoing dialysis at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon on June 10, 2021.
A nurse checks a patient undergoing dialysis at the Lebanese American University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon on June 10, 2021. (Bilal Hussein / AP)

The United Nations said its humanitarian funds have allocated Lebanon $10 million to help the cash-strapped nation buy vital fuel to power hospitals and water stations.

"Lebanon faces profound uncertainty. The humanitarian community, though, is resolved to assist all vulnerable populations, whether Lebanese, refugees or migrants," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths tweeted on Wednesday during a visit to Beirut.

The UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said on Tuesday a $6 million allocation from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund was planned to help 65 hospitals, primary healthcare centres, dispensaries and medical cold storage facilities.

Another $4 million would be set aside for health centres as well as water stations and four water facilities that serve more than two-thirds of Lebanon's population, it said in a statement.

"The allocation will help 2.3 million people across Lebanon by making sure there is enough fuel to keep water stations functioning," said OCHA.

"The fuel shortage, a result of the ongoing socioeconomic and political crises, is jeopardising the availability of health care and drinking water for nearly everyone in Lebanon," it added.

READ MORE: Lebanon eyes third shipment of Iranian fuel

Fight over fuel imports

The Iran-backed Hezbollah group announced last month that a shipment of Iranian fuel oil was on its way to help ease crippling shortages.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese government said it has received no request for fuel to be imported from Iran, appearing to confirm that the group has bypassed the state with a move to import Iranian fuel.

Asked about the Iranian shipment, the caretaker energy minister Raymond Ghajar told journalists "our role is restricted to import permits, we did not receive a request for permission".

Asked if this meant the ship was coming without permits, Ghajar said, "No. We do not have information. Permission was not requested from us. This is all I am saying."

The first shipment has yet to arrive, and Hezbollah has not announced details of where it will dock.

Lebanon's economic collapse has stripped the national currency of most of its value and left four out of five inhabitants below the poverty line.

The crisis deepened when the central bank started removing subsidies in order to shore up its dwindling foreign currency reserves, making the cost of fuel imports more expensive.

That has led to shortages of almost everything, with power cuts lasting up to 22 hours a day and fuel for private generators increasingly scarce.

Many hospitals have been forced to scale back operations because of the shortages.

The UN children's agency UNICEF has repeatedly warned that a near total shutdown of the water supply in Lebanon could threaten more than four million people.

READ MORE: UN calls for national unity government in Lebanon

Source: TRTWorld and agencies