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

Feature Story - 2006-08-03
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 humanitarian organisations such as MSF in getting bulk supplies quickly from Cyprus to Beirut," says Bruno Rebelle, programme director of Greenpeace International. "We are very happy that we can contribute to a temporary solution to these problems as we are, like everyone else, deeply concerned about the consequences of the fighting in the Middle-East for the civilian population."

MSF currently has almost 100 tonnes of medical materials and other relief supplies waiting for transport in a warehouse in Larnaca, with another 80 tonnes scheduled to arrive there soon. Though some of the supplies get through to Beirut, the bulk of them are stuck in the absence of sufficient transport capacity. Very few boats are available for 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 very difficult to move large volumes of relief goods from Beirut to southern Lebanon by road. We rely on cars which we stack with boxes to drive along the severely damaged and insecure road to Tyre; trucks have been hit by missiles so truck drivers are reluctant to move into the southern region. On top of that, we have major problems in getting our materials to Beirut quickly enough. In the short term, the offer from Greenpeace means a partial solution of one of our two problems."

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

Medecins Sans Frontieres has around 30 international staff working in areas in Lebanon that are severely affected by the conflict. The emphasis in MSF's activities is on supporting Lebanese health workers, setting up additional health posts and mobile clinics where necessary, and distributing basic materials (shelter, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, baby powder milk) to displaced 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