the second week of July, war has returned to the Middle East,
especially Lebanon. People in Lebanon have been caught up
in the worst violence since the 1975-1991 civil war. Most
of those killed or wounded have been civilians. Hundreds of
thousands of people have been displaced by the hostilities
in Lebanon, where fighting has profoundly disrupted normal
Meanwhile, in Israel, much of the population
of the north lives under the threat of rocket attacks.
Israeli incursions in Gaza Strip have
caused additional hardship to the Palestinians.
In spite of rampant insecurity, the
response of the Movement has been prompt.
In Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross
(LRC), the ICRC and partners from the Movement have responded
to the growing emergency needs, primarily in the south. During
the first four weeks of the conflict, the LRC evacuated 776
wounded people, transported 5,452 patients and collected 256
bodies. “In southern Lebanon, the number-one issue today
is ensuring the safety of civilians and securing safe access
for those engaged in medical and other humanitarian activities,”
said ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl. Several
LRC ambulances have been hit and a number of first-aiders
injured; one of them, Mikhael Jbayleh, was killed on duty
in the area of Marjayoun on 11 August.
In close cooperation with the LRC,
the ICRC continues to provide food, shelter materials and
basic household goods to destitute civilians — both
residents and the displaced. Ensuring medical treatment and
drinkable water for over a million of people is now a top
The Palestine Red Crescent Society
branch in Lebanon is providing medical facilities in Palestinian
refugee camps, while the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has established
reception centres at border points with Lebanon, and in Syria,
in order to support refugees fleeing conflict zones in Lebanon.
At the same time, humanitarian needs
in northern Israel, such as blood services, paramedic care
and ambulance transfers, are provided by the Magen David Adom
with ICRC support. MDA personnel have treated hundreds of
people, mostly wounded civilians.
Though it is premature to assess the
viability of the 14 August UN-brokered ceasefire, this is
the first significant step towards a reduction of the violence.
In this volatile context, the joint
efforts of the Movement are essential.
ICRC editor Red Cross Red Crescent