Israeli raid condemned as plans made to clear landmines

A woman wearing a protective face mask passes by a building severely damaged by Israeli attacks in Al-Dahieh, August 19, 2006. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)


Lebanon response: OCHA situation report No. 27

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

Israeli Raid an “Unwelcome Development”

The IDF has engaged elements of Hezbollah in the Beka’a Valley close to the village of Bodai in an overnight raid. The mission reportedly killed three Hezbollah militants; one Israeli soldier was killed in the attack. The IDF insists that the raid was aimed at disrupting an arms transfer, and was clearly a “defensive” operation. The UN Special Envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, termed the incident an “unwelcome development” a day after the Secretary-General warned of a ‘fragile’ situation on the ground.

UNMACC to Expand UXO Clearance Capacity

UXO contamination continues to be reported across the South. Cluster bombs have been observed in large numbers in population areas and where intense fighting took place. The UN Mine Action Coordination Center (UNMACC) will coordinate the expansion of clearance efforts in efforts to mitigate the increasing threat.

Flash Appeal for Lebanon to be Revised

The UN is to revise it’s Flash Appeal for Lebanon to reflect the current operational environment immediately ceasefire and to address expanding humanitarian needs. As per the request of the Government of Lebanon (GoL), the Appeal will likely be for the period 24 July-24 October 2006 and will focus only on humanitarian needs. Final confirmation on this should be available tomorrow pending ongoing meetings in Beirut between the UN and GoL.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

1. The Government of Lebanon’s (GoL) High Relief Commission (HRC) casualty figures remain at 1,183 people killed and 4,054 injured. The GoL’s National De-Mining Office (NDMO) reports that three deaths reported in the South since August 14 were as a result of UXOs.

2. The UN Special Envoys, Vijay Nambiar and Terje Roed-Larsen, sent to Lebanon by the Secretary-General to oversee the implementation of Resolution 1701 have met with the Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora, the Parliamentary Speaker and other officials today. The Special Envoys will conduct further meetings with Lebanese politicians tomorrow before leaving for Israel.

3. It is expected that the UN’s humanitarian response efforts will peak during the next 60 days and then gradually phase into a more recovery and reconstruction oriented response, coordinated by the Government of Lebanon. A three-stage humanitarian action plan lays out a concept of decentralized humanitarian operations in close proximity to target populations, primarily returnees.

Returns update

4. UNHCR reports a total of 121,000 Lebanese have returned from Syria since the ceasefire of 14 August. Despite the IDF operation in the Beka’a Valley overnight, some 4,150 people had returned by noon today. UNHCR border teams report that more Syrian nationals (migrant workers) are starting to cross back into Lebanon. UNHCR estimates that large numbers of Lebanese, totaling some 10,000-20,000, remain only in the Saide Zaynab area of Damascus now, as well as in host families.

5. UNHCR and other agencies continue to distribute return packages to Lebanese returning from Syria, as well as to people traveling South from Beirut and other shelter areas during the conflict.

6. Syria: IOM is focusing on a return program for up to 10,000 vulnerable persons, which could continue until the end of 2006.

Security update

7. Approximately 50 French troops have arrived in Naqoura, the first soldiers to bolster the UN force. They are among 200 troops promised by France. The UN is urgently asking European nations to contribute additional soldiers for the UN force.

UXO/Mines clearance

8. In addition to the ongoing TV, radio and leaflet/poster campaigns on UXO safety and awareness, UNICEF and the NDMO, with the assistance of numerous partners, are planning further action on Mine Risk Education and Mine Victim Assistance.

Infrastructure

9. Widespread destruction has been observed in and around the village of Ayta Shab, (close to Rmeish). Initial reports indicate that the damage may be greater than that at Bint Jbeil. Visual assessments suggest around 70% of homes and other properties are destroyed or badly damaged. The area would normally be home to some 15,000 people.

10. Clear trends emerging from further assessment missions to the south and east of Tyre indicate that most areas visited are without regular power or water supply. Priority requests by all communities are for bottled water and pre-prepared food requiring no cooking.

11. Mercy Corps has made a commitment to the municipal authorities to refurbish all small roads and bridges in Marjayoun and Nabatiye destroyed by the most recent conflict in the two districts. It has also finalized a contract for the repair of four road sites destroyed by bombs between Jezzine and Nabatiye. Construction is due to begin on 21 August, employing local laborers on a cash-for-work basis.

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Logistics

12. Four aid convoys have been dispatched this morning: four UNICEF trucks, two WFP trucks with prefabricated storage (one for WHO) to Tyre, and a further four UNICEF trucks to Marjayoun. An 11-truck WFP convoy left Beirut for various destinations en route to Jezzine, including to Kfar Jarra and Kfar Huna.

13. UNICEF has requested ten trucks per day for upcoming deliveries of 100,000 litres of drinking water in the South (ex-Tyre) over a period of 15 days.

14. Offloading continues of vessels Cap Cammarat (relief goods, medicines and ambulances) and the Gulf Nomad and West Point (fuel), in Beirut and Tripoli. The San Marco is due to dock today, bringing WFP and WHO supplies from Brindisi, while an ICRC ferry was also due in Beirut today with various relief supplies. It has been confirmed that the Anamcara will proceed to Limassol to reload and return to Beirut on 21 August.

15. The Vittoria M passenger catamaran will sail between Larnaca and Beirut on 21 August, as planned.

16. Royal Jordanian Airlines will now operate a thrice daily service into Beirut from Amman; and Middle Eastern Airlines (MEA) is also looking to operate more flights to Beirut (initially also via Amman).

Water and Sanitation

17. UNICEF sent 40,000 litres of bottled water to Tyre and 30,000 litres to Marjayoun today. An additional truck-load of medicines, hygiene kits and water kits was also dispatched to Marjayoun

18. Syria: Latrine maintenance was carried out by an engineering team supported by UNICEF at the Al Qaseer border yesterday. Detergents were also sent to the four border points for the latrine facilities.

19. In Nabatiye, Mercy Corps is renting a cistern to boost the municipality’s destroyed water infrastructure, and has also rented two trucks to collect rubbish and clear rubble. On 18 August, Mercy Corps delivered over 8,310 litres of water to Nabatiye for distribution by the municipality. In El Qaim, one of the most devastated villages in Marjayoun, Mercy Corps has purchased 200 water tanks and committed to pay for the operation of the main cistern to keep pumps filled and supplying water until the municipal system is functioning again.

Protection

20. IOM’s program to assist Third Country Nationals (TCNs) continues, funded by the European Union and other donors. Total persons returned ex-Lebanon is nearly 12,100 and will exceed 13,500 in the next days, including 70 from Philippines and 35 from Sri Lanka set to depart from Beirut today. As the cease-fire continues to hold, requests for evacuation have greatly declined. Most new cases are families recently arrived from the South.

21. UNICEF has so far established partnerships with 18 national NGOs working on child protection in various parts of the country, thus securing psychosocial assistance outreach to approximately 210,000 children directly affected by the conflict.

22. Work continues on identifying training organizations to build capacities of animators, social workers and teachers for psychosocial support activities. Projects are being developed with those that have been identified so far, namely ‘Right to Play’ and ‘Al Jana’ (Arab Resource Centre for Popular Arts).

Early Recovery

23. The Government is drafting a national Early Recovery Strategy building on the needs assessments now ongoing with strong UN and World Bank support. This will be issued as a Government document for the Stockholm donor conference, and it will include an annexed compendium of UN projects designed to support each of the sectors set out in the Government’s Early Recovery Strategy. By including these projects in the Strategy, the Government will indicate their endorsement.

FUNDING

Flash Appeal

24. As of 19 August, the UN Flash Appeal for the Lebanon crisis is now 54% funded with contributions of almost US$ 89 million, while additional US$ 6.39 million has been pledged.

25. The overall top six donors are the United States (US $25.4 million), Kuwait (20 million USD), Norway (US $18.03 million), ECHO (US $17.04 million), the European Commission (US $13.81 million), and Saudi Arabia (US $12 million). Significant uncommitted pledges of US $300 million and US $51 million have also been made by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia respectively.

26. Full details can be found on the FTS on http://www.reliefweb.int/fts.

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