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Middle East conflict

Civilians in the crossfire


SINCE 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 life.

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 priority.

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.

Jean-François Berger
ICRC editor Red Cross Red Crescent

A Lebanese Red Cross worker carries an American child towards a
United States Navy landing craft on a beach near Beirut.
©REUTERS / YANNIS BEHRAKIS, Courtesy www.alertnet.org

 

Landcruisers, kitchen sets and 100,000 family rations are unloaded from
the ICRC ship Georgios K in Beirut.
©MARKO KOKIC / ICRC

 


The Lebanese Red Cross has been working around the clock since the onset of the conflict.
Here, volunteers prepare humanitarian assistance in Beirut.
©LEBANESE RED CROSS

 

Displaced Lebanese made their way into neighbouring Syria, where the
Syrian Arab Red Crescent has set up reception centres.
©
HANY HAWASLY / SYRIAN ARAB RED CRESCENT

 

Lebanese Red Cross volunteers provide hygiene kits to displaced
people in Mount Lebanon district, near Beirut.
©MARKO KOKIC / ICRC

 

ICRC workers pass boxes of aid supplies intended for southern Lebanon across the Litani River.
©MARKO KOKIC / ICRC

 

Red Cross members carry a Lebanese man injured in an Israeli air raid in Qana,
6 kilometres from the port-city of Tyre in south Lebanon.
©REUTERS / ZOHRA BENSEMRA, COURTESY
www.alertnet.org

 

Rocket attacks on northern Israel are hitting mostly civilians, like this young woman
rescued by Magen David Adom first-aiders in Maalot Tarshikha.
©DENIS SINYAKOV / AFP PHOTO

 

The Magen David Adom erected a 24-hour clinic for displaced people
at the Nizzanim Beach camp in southern Israel.
©MAGEN DAVID ADOM

 

This displaced child is receiving assistance
from the Lebanese Red Cross.
©MARKO KOKIC / ICRC


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