In response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, and with food, fuel and water in increasingly short supply, the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC) has established a presence in Larnaca, Cyprus, as part of the Logistics Cluster, with the aim of coordinating the transport of relief goods from Cyprus to Lebanon. The operation to date has met with its share of difficulties, including the fact that up until now NGO and UN cargoes from Larnaca had to be moved on vessels offered by foreign Governments. This transport was on an uncertain timetable and dependent on available space. This issue has been solved by WFP, which has chartered a Ro-Ro(roll-on-roll-off vessel), the “Anamcara”, on behalf of the Logistics Cluster. The ship was built in 1982 and has a capacity of 3,000 MT, with deep tanks equipped for liquid cargoes such as fuel. It also has a 25m3 refrigeration capacity for sensitive cargo. The Anamcara reached Cyprus from Brindisi on August 12th and loading began immediately in preparation for its 17:00 departure to Beirut.
Supplies on board included food, medical supplies, shelter items and fuel. The loading took a little more time than expected due to a lower capacity at Larnaca than at the port of Limassol, which is where all future sailings will leave from. Cyprus-based logisticians have spent the last few days working around the clock in preparation for the ship’s departure.
“It’s imperative that a steady operational pipeline is opened into Beirut”, said Jakob Agersnap, head of UNJLC Cyprus. “Most of the goods so far have been entering through Syria, but due to strict customs requirements and the state of the roads in northern Lebanon since the bombings, this route is becoming increasingly difficult. The Anamcara has a high capacity, which means we can get big quantities of supplies directly into Beirut with each sailing. WFP will also be shipping goods from Cyprus and Beirut into the southern port of Tyre when the security situation allows.
“It’s been a lot of work getting the system in place and trying to streamline it. Both UNJLC, UNHAS and WFP logisticians have been working around the clock and there’s been some troubleshooting required. Issues have included goods coming in to Larnaca airport improperly packed. On one occasion we found ourselves practically shoveling the goods out of the plane, then it was virtually impossible to get it in the warehouse. There have also been some problems with organisations giving us little to no notice of goods arriving at the airport, so we’d have minimal time to prepare for receiving the cargo. But now the process is underway, and we believe agencies, NGOs and Government donors will start seeing this route as an effective way of transporting their relief supplies. It was a great moment when we finally saw the ship set sail for Beirut.”
Transport on the Anamcara is booked through the Cargo Movement Request procedure which can be found on the common UNJLC/Logistic Cluster website at http://www.unjlc.org/lebanon.