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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
UK to boost aid to Lebanon by 6m
Hilary Benn
Hilary Benn is in Beirut to monitor the relief effort
The UK is to contribute a further 6m towards relief efforts in Lebanon, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn has said.

Mr Benn, who is in Beirut to see conditions for himself, said the fragile ceasefire there was holding.

But he said food, water and medical supplies were urgently required in the south of the country.

Thousands of people were trying to return home there and needed humanitarian support, he added.

"The humanitarian emergency here is very considerable," Mr Benn told BBC News.

"And that's why Britain is today doubling its contribution to the humanitarian relief effort, an additional 6m, about half of that is going towards emergency bridging because we need to get the roads opened up.

"We need to clear the unexploded ordinance and we need to lift the blockade so that supplies can get to the coastal ports and so the economy of the Lebanon can get moving again."

'Peace and stability'

The UN has said there are 50,000 people on the move in Lebanon following a halt in the fighting, Mr Benn said.

"As always happens when people think there'll be peace and stability people want to go back home," he added.

"What that means is the huge humanitarian needs there are here in Lebanon need to be met, but in a different place."

The minister said he was particularly concerned 120,000 people south of the Litani river, where they have been trapped by the fighting.

He added: "The only way we can bring peace and stability to the Middle East is if we stop fighting and use political debate and dialogue to solve the broader problems.

"That is why it took some time for this resolution to be put in place.

"Now we have, the ceasefire seems to be holding. People want to go home and we have to assist them in that process."

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