OCHA: Civilian death toll mounts in Lebanon

A general view of a demolished area in the south of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, 24 July 2006. Israeli air strikes have destroyed much of the Lebanese infrastructure and transport network. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)


Flash appeal on the Lebanon crisis launched today

The UN Flash Appeal for Lebanon was launched today in Beirut and New York seeking a total of $149 million US to meet the needs of some 800,000 people. The appeal covers an initial response of three months in priority areas including food, health, logistics, water and sanitation, protection and common services. As part of the appeal, $5 million is being allocated from the Central Emergency Response Fund for logistics, water and sanitation, common services and health care.

The ERC Jan Egeland reiterated the call to establish humanitarian corridors in Lebanon, specifically to the ports of Beirut, Tripoli, and Tyre, as the only way for the humanitarian organizations to reach thousands of people in need of urgent relief assistance.

Most of the delegations participating in the launching expressed full support for the Flash Appeal, and updated on their current humanitarian relief activities in support of the victims of the conflict. During the meeting a total of approximately US$ 200 million was reported, between in-kind and cash contributions, bilateral, contributions to ICRC, NGOs and some amounts specifically for the United Nations. A more detailed list of contributions covering the Flash Appeal will be posted in the situation report.

Situation overview

The number of casualties and displaced persons continues to increase. Official figures report 346 dead and over 1,234 injured, the great majority civilians. Thirty-seven Israelis have been killed, about half of them civilians.

Fierce fighting erupted this morning as Israeli ground forces pushed into Lebanon overnight, heading towards the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil. Rockets continued to fall on northern Israel. Bombing continues in South Lebanon, the southern suburb of Beirut, Bekaa, Baalbek and Hermel.

Security

Heavy exchanges of fire continued along the length of the Blue Line in the last 24 hours. One unarmed UN military observer, a member of the Observer Group Lebanon, was seriously wounded by small arms fire in the patrol base in the Marun Al Ras area. There were nine other incidents of firing close to UN positions during the past 24 hours.

The Israeli military hit the Rashidiyeh Palestine Refugee camp in Tyre today for the first time in its offensive, wounding 6 people. Two people were reported killed in the Israeli raid on the base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Bekaa.

UNIFIL informed that at around 1045hrs (NYT) today, three GHANBATT peacekeepers were injured when shells hit their base at UN position 5-22, south of Rmeich. A potential medical evacuation to either UNIFIL HQ in Naqoura or UN position 8-18 is currently being considered. There was no further information available at this stage as to the seriousness of their injuries. Further updates and related developments will be communicated as soon as obtained.

Humanitarian Situation

The total number of affected people includes some 150,000 Lebanese, 1,000 Palestinians and 20,000 Third Country Nationals who have reached Syria. In addition, 115,000 Third Country Nationals (TCNs) from some 20 countries remain in Lebanon.

As the conflict continues, food stocks in many parts of Lebanon are running low. Shortages of water are already a reality in parts of southern Lebanon due to a lack of electricity and fuel. The possibility of shortages of medical supplies in health facilities in the coming weeks is of growing concern. While medical and food stocks are available delivery is almost impossible in many parts of the country. Hospitals and medical centers are rapidly reaching the point at which they will need to be restocked. A fuel crisis is said to be imminent.

An ICRC assessment noted in Tyre the number of IDPs fluctuates widely (those leaving for Beirut are replaced by people arriving from outlying areas). Water shortages are reported and hygiene conditions are poor. In Tyre District reports indicate that an estimated 110,000 people, both the displaced and residents, may soon run out of food/water. In many southern villages, dead bodies remain buried under the rubble.

International Response

The first UNICEF charter flight left Copenhagen on 22 July for the region carrying 38 tonnes of supplies, including water kits, oral rehydration salts and essential drugs. A second plane left from Luxembourg for the region on Sunday, 23 July, carrying further much needed supplies.

UNHCR is positioning more than 500 metric tons of relief supplies along the Syria-Lebanon border. As part of a joint U.N. approach to the crisis, UNHCR will be responsible for protection activities as well as for shelter, site management and provision of non-food aid items. UNHCR’s work will also involve border monitoring and facilitating entry for all new arrivals in Syria.

Following the arrival on Sunday of the WFP’s first shipment of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon, twenty-five metric tons of high energy biscuits, the agency launched an emergency operation that will reach over 300,000 people, including 50,000 people who have fled across the border to Syria.

WHO, along with other health partners, is supporting the national authorities in meeting urgent needs, which include access to safe drinking water, health care, vaccines and life saving medications for the rapidly increasing number of displaced people in shelters in Lebanon and Syria. Collaboration with other health agencies is to be instituted through the health cluster mechanism.

IOM’s IDP team has started to arrive in Beirut today. Requests have been received from the Governments of Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Moldova, Iraq, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Venezuela and Vietnam for evacuations of their nationals. IOM has established a presence in Larnaca to assist with the arrival of non-European nationals.

The ICRC is coordinating the action of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement in Lebanon, in close cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross Society, with its 2,400 volunteers, 42 ambulance stations and over 50 clinics and other medical facilities across the country, has been active since the first day of the crisis.

Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation’s (VVAF) Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) will soon be deploying a specialist to Lebanon to provide emergency relief services as conflict surmounts. The United Nations Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have asked for iMMAP’s immediate assistance in emergency information management services overseas as the agency plans relief operations.

OCHA’s Environmental Emergencies Section (part of the joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit) is looking into deploying experts to deal with the most acute environmental issues arising from damaged industrial facilities.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is dispatching emergency specialists to the region to assess urgent humanitarian needs. Emergency team members head to the area this week from Dubai to examine conditions for the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been impacted by the fighting and are uprooted from their homes. The rest of the IRC’s emergency response team is on standby for deployment.

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