UN: Fuel tankers refuse to head to Lebanon

Two oil tankers loaded with urgently needed fuel for Lebanon are still sitting in Cyprus because their captains refuse to move without security guarantees from Israel, a UN official said Thursday. The ships were meant to arrive in Beirut and Tripoli on Thursday, said World Food Program spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume, but the captains of the Denmark and Bahamas registered vessels are demanding Israel provide them with written guarantees of safe passage. So far, the warring parties in Lebanon have only given "concurrence," not guarantees, to aid organizations which have submitted the routes of their shipments into and throughout the country, according to the WFP, which is coordinating all UN aid deliveries. The WFP said on Wednesday the two fuel shipments totaling 87,000 tons (96,000 US tons) of oil and diesel would be used by the Lebanese government to alleviate an acute fuel shortage in the country which threatens to paralyze what remains of the country's economy.