OCHA: Lebanon Response Update (1)

Smoke rises above a Lebanese port after an Israeli attack 17 July 2006. (Peter Speetjens/IRIN)


Situation Overview

One week after the start of the hostilities, the humanitarian situation in Lebanon is worsening with the civilian population particularly affected, notably in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the Beqaa Valley. Over 300 people have reportedly been killed (30% of which are children, according to UNICEF), and over 860 wounded.

In northern Israel, overall, 29 Israelis have been killed and 200 wounded as a result of Hezbollah rocket attacks over the course of the last week.

In Lebanon, there is widespread destruction of public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, road networks, bridges, fuel storage, airports and main seaports. Of concern for future humanitarian relief operations is the destruction of roads and bridges linking Beirut to southern Lebanon. As a result of the targeting of petrol stations and fuel storage facilities, it is estimated that Beirut has only three days of fuel supplies remaining. Shops are not open or open only sporadically and shelves are being emptied as people continue to stock up emergency supplies.

To date, over 60,000 people have been evacuated to Cyprus. The government of Cyprus has appealed to the EU for additional aircraft to fly people to their home countries.

Security

Lebanon is now under Security Phase IV. In Tyre, the evacuation of UN dependents and non-essential staff along with several hundred foreign nationals is ongoing.

Population Movements

While figures as to affected populations remain only indicative, current planning figures suggest that there may be 500,000 conflict-affected people (including IDPs and those unable to relocate). According to Save the Children, 200,000 children are affected. The number of displaced persons sheltering in schools has doubled to 66,500. In the Bekaa Valley, it has been reported that there are some 30,000 displaced. It is estimated that, three-quarters of the IDPs are living with host families.

There are some 115,000 Third Countries Nationals (TCNs) from some 20 countries still in Lebanon. This figure includes some 20,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Iraq.

It has been reported that there are some 140,000 Lebanese now located in Syria, with some 100,000 requiring assistance. The Syrian government is providing aid for those sheltering with host families, schools, sports facilities. The Syrian Red Crescent is supplying blankets, mattresses, food and water.

Humanitarian situation and international response

The Lebanese government has requested international assistance and appealed for medicines, supplies (like chlorine, surgical gloves, dialysis filters, medical refrigerators); materials for shelter and construction (such as tents, blankets, and generators of 5, 10, 20, 30 KVA) and fire fighting equipment (fire extinguishers, foam, fire hose and fire extinguisher vehicles).

Humanitarian assessments continue to be impaired by ongoing insecurity and destroyed roads networks and bridges, which, according to WFP, has almost completely disrupted the food supply chain.

In Beirut, all hospitals are reportedly functioning despite power. With the number of people in shelters increasing, access to safe drinking water is become of concern, followed by adequate health care and treatment. Reports suggest that small dispensaries and clinics in the south of the country are beginning to run out of medicines.

UNICEF has strengthened its capacity in Lebanon and is conducting some limited assessment particularly of schools that are being used as temporary shelters for displaced people with key needs being a lack of water, sanitation and health care. UNICEF has so far allocated US $7.5 million of its own money for this emergency. As the logistics of aid distribution are worked out, UNICEF’s Lebanon country office and its global Supply Division in Copenhagen are preparing to deliver critical emergency supplies in the areas of essential drugs, water, sanitation, and recreation.

UNHCR is undertaking border monitoring in countries surrounding Lebanon for refugee outflows and has propositioned, in Jordan and Syria, stockpiles of emergency shelter material, including plastic sheeting, tents and blankets.

WFP teams on the ground have indicated that there are sufficient food supplies, including wheat stocks, to cover national consumption for one to three months. The primary concern is the disruption to food supply chains and the ability of the local population to purchase food from functional markets. The safety of relief convoys moving in Lebanon is of increasing concern. WFP has also arranged for a food loan from Syria to Lebanon and has pre-positioned food supplies, ready to be deployed. An EMOP will also be designed to meet the food needs of the displaced people, taking into account the food aid activities of other partners.

The WHO expressed concern over the lack of electricity in hospitals, safe passage of ambulances and access to population in the south. WHO Emergency staff are coordinating closely with their UN colleagues and Lebanese health authorities. Preparations have begun to conduct health assessments, security permitting. Distribution of chlorine and other water purification supplies continues by the Ministry of Health (MoH) WHO and UNICEF. Five New Emergency Health Kits (NEHKs) have been sent from Brindisi.

UNFIL has established a joint coordination center for humanitarian activities in Tyre and in Marjayoun. Earlier in the week, UNIFIL successfully dispatched a convoy with humanitarian aid to the villages of Al Boustan and Alma Ash Shab as well as distributing food items to children in the village of Naqoura. UNIFIL is still facing serious restrictions in its freedom of movement, and was able to carry out only a small number of logistic and humanitarian convoys yesterday, including the supply of water to the civilian hospital with 1,000 people in Tibni. Re-supply convoys to UNIFIL positions are planned, but the ability to move will depend on the situation on the ground.

OCHA has deployed a three-person coordination support team to Lebanon, which will work closely with the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team. A UNDP-BCPR staff member joined the team. OCHA reported that there is a need for information management capacity in-country as well as a need to map out the destruction of roads, bridges, and the location of affected populations as soon as conditions allow. OCHA is also looking into deploying civil-military coordination officers to UNIFIL and to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Information management capacity and Civil-Military Coordination staff will also be deployed in the coming days.

IOM has reported that it has been requested by the Governments of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Moldova and the Philippines to facilitate the evacuations of their nationals.

The first ICRC emergency supplies reached Lebanon on 18 July to cover the needs of 4,000 people. ICRC is addressing the most pressing needs in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross Society, which – with its 2,400 volunteers, 42 ambulance stations and over 50 clinics and other medical facilities all over the country – has been active since the first day of the crisis.

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) has mobilized more than 500 emergency rescue and first aid volunteers, as well as some 200 ambulances to evacuate and provide emergency relief to people wounded or displaced by the bombings. The LRC mobile clinics are providing care to IDPs hosted in centers and schools.

Protection

Secretary-General Kofi Annan called this morning for an immediate cessation of hostilities to prevent further loss of innocent life, allow full humanitarian access to those in need.

A Joint UNICEF and WHO statement was issued today expressing concern about civilian casualties and new risks to health resulting from the escalating violence in Lebanon and Israel.

Donor and funding information

In an attempt to highlight the concerns of the affected populations the Office of the Resident Coordinator and UNCT, in conjunction with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is developing a Flash Appeal that will cover an initial period of three months. Its launching is scheduled for Monday, 24 July in New York.

To meet emergency needs in Lebanon over the coming month the ICRC is asking donor countries for an initial CHF 10 million that will serve, as a matter of priority, to assist internally displaced and other vulnerable people and to support the medical and ambulance services of the Lebanese Red Cross. The ICRC is expanding its current team of six expatriates to more than 20 and reinforcing its 15-member Lebanese team. It is also coordinating the activities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Lebanon.

The European Union (EU) announced EUR10 million (US $12.6 million) in aid on Thursday to help Lebanese fleeing fighting in their country.

The Board of Executive Directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved US$ 2 million as Emergency Relief Assistance to Lebanon. The approved assistance will be allocated to help meet some basic needs such as tents, blankets, foodstuffs, medical kits, medicine, fuel, water, etc. to alleviate the plight of the victims.

The first aid shipment of Iran’s Red Crescent Society (IRCS) including 3.5 tons of medicine and medical equipment was sent to Lebanon Wednesday.

Logistics

Damascus is functioning as the principal entry point to Lebanon, with direct support being provided by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in-country. All other entry points are currently blocked as a result of ongoing IDF military operations as well as through the continuing blockade established by the Israeli Navy.

WFP is currently discussing Concept of Operations for the Logistics services on behalf of the United Nations. It has also strengthened its logistical capacity in the country.

This situation report, together with additional information on the current crisis is also available on http://www.reliefweb.int

Contact Details

  • Desk Officers: New York: Mr. Carlos Monteiro-Pereira, Tel: +1-212-963-4639; Mr. Ben Negus, Tel: +1-917-367-4374, Ms. Heidi Kuttab, Tel: +1-917-367-33 65. Geneva: Mr. Thierry Delbreuve, Tel: +41-22-917-7638. Press contacts: New York: Ms. Kristen Knutson, Tel: +1-917-367-9262. Geneva: Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel: +41-22-917-2653.

    Related Links

  • UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs