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Lebanon Humanitarian Crisis

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    ACT Update: Lebanon Humanitarian Crisis (Rueters AlertNews) http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/222031/115470740483.htm 04 Aug 2006 16:00:00 GMT
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2006
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      ACT Update: Lebanon Humanitarian Crisis (Rueters AlertNews)
      http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/222031/115470740483.htm
      04 Aug 2006 16:00:00 GMT
      Source: Action by Churches Together (ACT) - Switzerland
      Elisabeth Gouel
      Website: http://www.act-intl.org
      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
      areas".

      Emergency Activities

      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.

      Co-ordination

      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
      planned.

      Other responses

      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
      with MECC.

      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.

      (ends)

      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
      Reuters. ]
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