Lebanon Humanitarian Crisis
- ACT Update: Lebanon Humanitarian Crisis (Rueters AlertNews)
04 Aug 2006 16:00:00 GMT
Source: Action by Churches Together (ACT) - Switzerland
LEBANON HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
Geneva, August 4, 2006
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) reports that the night of August
3 - 4 has been one of the most violent since the Israeli attacks on Lebanon
started. More than 50 air raids and heavy shelling from warships was felt
all over the country. Five major bridges linking the north of Lebanon to the
capital Beirut were hit and 70 people were injured.
Leaflets were dropped by Israeli warplanes on the southern suburbs of
Beirut, asking the population to leave. Shelling of the southern suburbs
continued all night and included the area of Ouzai, the entry point to
Beirut International Airport as well as one of the airport runways. Air
raids on the north east of Baalbek, hit a power plant in the western part of
the Beqaa, in addition to houses and civilian structures.
According to the Lebanese High Relief Committee loss of life has reached
900, the injured now number 3,400 and the displaced are reported to be
1,400,000 (300,000 of whom are located in private houses with family or
friends or in rented houses).
Shortages of fuel, electricity and water are increasingly being felt. Black
market prices are expected go sky high as the fuel crisis intensifies.
Market activities have slowed down as people fear unexpected air raids and
shelling, especially after the destruction wreaked in the so called "safer
MECC continues its relief distributions as far as the situation allows. The
MECC warehouse is full of supplies and volunteers are packing and preparing
parcels. The damage to bridges and highways and the suspected further damage
of side roads will further affect communication between regions.
A pilot project was launched a few days ago in Saida, Beirut and Mount
Lebanon ensuring water and sanitation in 4 centers for the displaced (2 in
Saida and 2 in Beirut) thanks to the technical assistance and guidance of
the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) team currently in Lebanon.
There is close co-ordination with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the
Minister of Social Affairs, Mrs. Nayla Moawad, has been highly appreciative
of the work carried out by ACT/MECC and is ready to facilitate the work in
any way possible.
It is expected that the current appeal will be revised next week and that a
psycho-social component will be included as the needs are very high.
Furthermore, the Minister of Social Affairs has given high priority to this
issue, mobilizing well-known psychologists, psychotherapists and educators
as well as requesting volunteers from among university students to assist in
the centers for the displaced. MECC also intends to include a request for
medicines as the supplies in the country are now very low.
The MECC Emergency Committee/ICNDR Team and ACT/CAT team have been working
on the organizational chart for the Emergency Operation. Working procedures
and logistics have been established as well as the Memo of Understanding
with NCA regarding the water/sanitation project. A security management plan
for MECC and expatriate staff is being developed.
The MECC Emergency Committee/ICNDR team and ACT/CAT team have been working
in co-ordination and with the support of the NCA team on water/sanitation
and communications, a DanChurch Aid (DCA) team on logistics and fundraising
and a Christian Aid (CAID) advisor on security. The team has also been in
contact with the UN system, the local authorities and other relevant
organizations responding to this crisis.
Due to the increased insecurity in the country, the ACT/CAT team comprising
John Damerell (consultant), Rolf Berglund (seconded by Church of Sweden) and
Dominic Nutt (seconded by CAID) will have to leave the country earlier than
ACT member, the International Orthodox Church Charities (IOCC) reports that
they are responding to the situation through their office in Lebanon
distributing relief packages. IOCC has indicated their interest in
participating in the ACT Appeal and they have been requested to co-ordinate
ACT member, Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) reports that, through a
volunteer, they are supporting MECC efforts in Syria to assist Lebanese
refugees. They also report that the Hungarian Government will allocate funds
to assist the affected population in Lebanon. HIA are planning to contact
and co-ordinate their response with MECC in Lebanon.
ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save
lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. The ACT Coordinating
Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran
World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.
[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of