Fleeing Lebanese seek shelter with Palestinian refugees

Waziriya Abboud escaped with her family after their home in south Lebanon was destroyed. (Hugh Macleod/IRIN)

TYRE — Some 925 Lebanese families have sought refuge in the impoverished al-Bas Palestinian camp in central Tyre since Israel’s air attacks against Lebanon began on 12 July, according to Ali Naji, head of the Committee for the Aid of Refugees (CAR).

Naji said the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was collecting the camp’s rubbish, assisted by teams organised by members of the Palestine’s Fatah party - the resistance movement founded by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

“Our town was destroyed,” said Waziriya Abboud, one of the displaced Lebanese at the camp, standing outside a classroom in al-Bas and surrounded by her children.

“Our wheat crop was set on fire. The cow is dead. The beehives are gone. The tobacco crop is gone and the olive trees were on fire. We have no livelihood left.”

Waziriya Abboud and her co-wife Nayfa Muhana, together with their husband ‘Mr Saeed’ and their 13 Lebanese children fled their home in Majdel Zoun - in the south-west corner of Lebanon, just six kilometres from the Israeli border - two weeks ago.

The family said that their home had been targeted by an Israeli helicopter because it stood next door to the home of a known Hizbullah supporter. They fled in their car just minutes before their three-storey home was destroyed, they said, leaving a grandmother behind.

“All the aid we have received so far has come from Fatah within the Palestinian camps and from Syria,” says Muhana, the older wife. “We want a ceasefire now as our children are exhausted, we have no money and we live without dignity. Let the Israeli mothers be aware that we too are concerned for our children.”

The camp received food aid from a number of NGOs on 26 July, which CAR’s Naji said was enough to cover the families living in the school but not enough to supply all the displaced families in the camp.

The majority of displaced people arriving in the camp had since travelled north to Sidon, added Naji, but 475 families remain, 150 of them sheltering in the camp’s three schools while the remainder live with Palestinian families.

The al-Bas camp is one of the crowded camps that house many of the 400,000 Palestinians who are registered as refugees in Lebanon by the UNRWA. Although the camps are impoverished and dilapidated, they have, over the years, attracted poor Lebanese who have always found life easier for them in the camps.

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