Rainbow Warrior to transport supplies for MSF's humanitarian work in Lebanon

Feature story - 2 August, 2006
We have offered Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) the use of the Rainbow Warrior for transporting much-needed supplies to Lebanon. The vessel was already in the Mediterranean and has now docked in Larnaca, Cyprus for loading medical supplies.

The Rainbow Warrior will help MSF deliver vital medical supplies to Lebanon.

"We understood that there were major difficulties for humanitarianorganisations such as MSF in getting bulk supplies quickly from Cyprusto Beirut," says Bruno Rebelle, programme director of GreenpeaceInternational. "We are very happy that we can contribute to a temporarysolution to these problems as we are, like everyone else, deeplyconcerned about the consequences of the fighting in the Middle-East forthe civilian population."

MSF currently has almost 100 tonnes of medical materials and otherrelief supplies waiting for transport in a warehouse in Larnaca, withanother 80 tonnes scheduled to arrive there soon. Though some of thesupplies get through to Beirut, the bulk of them are stuck in theabsence of sufficient transport capacity. Very few boats are availablefor sailing to Lebanon as there is little guarantee for safe passage.

"We have two major transportation problems," says Jerome Oberreit,operational director for MSF in Brussels. "To date it has been verydifficult to move large volumes of relief goods from Beirut to southernLebanon by road. We rely on cars which we stack with boxes to drivealong the severely damaged and insecure road to Tyre; trucks have beenhit by missiles so truck drivers are reluctant to move into thesouthern region. On top of that, we have major problems in getting ourmaterials to Beirut quickly enough. In the short term, the offer fromGreenpeace means a partial solution of one of our two problems."

The Rainbow Warrior has capacity for transporting 40 tonnes, equivalentto 105 pallets. It is not clear yet how many rotations the vessel willmake for MSF.

Medecins Sans Frontieres has around30 international staff working in areas in Lebanon that are severelyaffected by the conflict. The emphasis in MSF's activities is onsupporting Lebanese health workers, setting up additional health postsand mobile clinics where necessary, and distributing basic materials(shelter, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, baby powder milk) todisplaced families.

For further information please contact:Mike Townsley, Greenpeace International Communications, +31 6 21296918, Amsterdam, mike.townsley[at]int.greenpeace.org Erwin van 't Land, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Brussels, +32 2 474 7488 or +32 475 661 342