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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
UN launches Lebanese aid appeal
Syrian aid drivers
Syrian drivers get ready to transport supplies to Lebanon

The UN has launched a $150m (81m) aid appeal for strife-torn Lebanon and the US has announced its own $30m package to ease the suffering of civilians.

The UN's top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, said the money was needed to help feed and shelter about 800,000 civilians caught up in the conflict.

The moves came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew to Lebanon and Israel to discuss the regional crisis.

Some 380 Lebanese and up to 40 Israelis have died in 13 days of conflict.

The Israeli offensive began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on 12 July.

Hezbollah 'cowards'

Mr Egeland has accused Israel of using excessive force, but during his visit to Beirut he accused of Hezbollah of contributing to the problem by what he called "cowardly blending in among women and children".

"I heard there was a statement they were proud they had lost very few fighters, and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this," he said.

"I don't think you want to be proud of having many more children and women than armed men [killed]".

Israel is acting with tremendous restraint, were they targeting civilian populations there would be thousands upon thousands dead
Steve Gross, US

In his appeal for funds, he said the money was needed to help aid organisations cover needs of displaced people for three months.

About $24m was on behalf on Unicef for children who have been displaced inside Lebanon or who have fled to Syria.

Mr Egeland said he was asking the Israelis for safe passage for aid ships to enter the northern port of Tripoli and the southern port of Tyre.

US President George W Bush on Monday ordered helicopters and ships to Lebanon to provide humanitarian aid.

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White House spokesman Tony Snow said that supplies would start arriving on Tuesday.

"It is a move that is designed in recognition of the fact that innocent men, women and children are being hurt," he said. "And that is an awful thing."

Mr Snow said the US was also working with Israeli and Lebanese officials to open up humanitarian corridors in Lebanon.

The EU has already pledged $12.6m in aid while on Monday the UK increased its pledge to 5m.




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