Update from Lebanon

We just received this update from Najdeh, a grantee group working to improve the lives of Palestinian refugee women living in Lebanon's refugee camps. Nahr El Bared camp has been the site of recent fighting between the Lebanese Army and Fath-Islam. This month, the Global Fund gave an emergency grant to Najdeh to help support their work under the current difficult and dangerous conditions.

From Najdeh:

In the 20th of May 2007, clashes broke up between the Lebanese Army and Fath-Islam group. Army tanks shelled Nahr El Bared camp after militants from Fatah al-Islam took control of army posts at the camp's entrance slaughtering four army soldiers. The camp's electricity, phone lines and water were cut off.

The clashes continued with few days of unannounced ceasefire that allowed most of the camp'snajdeh inhabitants to be evacuated. The Lebanese Army is still forcing a strict blockade on the camp to restrict the movement of Fath-Islam combatants. Civilians are only allowed to exit the camp, no civilians are allowed to enter however, the Lebanese Army is giving permits to United Nations Relief and Works Agency, International Committee of the Red Cross, Palestinian Red Crescent Society and other NGOs to enter the camp to provide aid to the remaining civilians inside.

UNRWA, PRCS, ICRC and Najdeh have managed to enter a number of items to aid the trapped civilians inside the camp. These items mainly included bread, water, food kits, and medicines, cleaning materials, children's and infants' diapers. ICRC and the camp's popular committee have set up meeting points to which humanitarian aid will be delivered to. Yet, it has been reported that the popular committee inside the camp is facing difficulties in distributing the received items due to the continuous fighting.

PRCS and the Lebanese Red Cross continue to use their ambulances to evacuate as much wounded, disable, sick from the camp yet with extreme difficulties.

A number of diseases have spread throughout the camp mainly scabies and lice due to lack of water and spread of insects and rats due to lack of hygiene, uncollected garbage and spread of corps.

As for the consequences of the clash, it will be as followings:

  1. Almost all the camp, more than 80% of NBC, including Najdeh centers were completely destroyed.
  2. The recovery duration: re-build the camp, and the temporary settlement of the IDPs, that in case the construction started directly after the ceasefire, will need one year.
  3. Its not obvious or clear if the reconstruction will includes the edges of the camp. The previous experiences with such matter of destroyed camps and gatherings was bad since the government put restrictions on re-building the camps and gatherings, and didn't allowed to re build the edges of the camps and the gatherings. In addition, nobody was in charge to rebuild everything. As for the previous experience too, UNRWA took onto its responsibility to rebuild the whole infrastructure of the camps, rebuilding for the hardship families and compensate with limited amount for others.
  4. Its to be noted that the construction material are not allowed to enter NBC before the current situation. This procedure will be continued with more restrictions in the future, as well as the Lebanese check points at the entrances of the camp.
  5. The recovery period will be divided to two phases / levels; one on the reconstruction and rebuilding the camp, two on settling temporary the IDPs.
  6. The psychosocial intervention and activities should be run simultaneously with other recovery activities and for both children and women.
  7. It was obvious that the Lebanese army took random procedures and restrictions against Palestinians, mainly men, without respect to the humanitarian workers too. Three of Association Najdeh staff were arrested during the previous ten days by the Lebanese army. Two out of them were arrested during their trip to Baddawi camp, the third was arrested when he was coming back to his home in Tripoli from Baddawi (he is the photograph and montage instructor in Baddawi and working now in the emergency project there).
  8. The need assessment for the IDPs in Baddawi camp shows the following indicators and needs:
    • Mattresses: 3709
    • Food rations: 3441
    • Cloths: 4291
    • Medicine: 3891
    • Milk and child diaper: 1141
    • Diaper for elder people: 25
    • Kitchen kits: 445
    • Women Kit: 4500

The need assessment also showed that out of the 4727 IDP families, there are 1698 considered hardship families (according to UNRWA criteria), 417 widowed, 64 divorced, and 156 separated women. This indicates that the rate of the families headed by women and the bread winner among those reaches to 13%.

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