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Lebanon: Activity Update - The Challenge of Providing Aid to the Most Needy
The challenge of providing aid to the most needy
August 8, 2006
In the south of Lebanon, the last bridge over the Litani River, the Qasmiyeh crossing, has been destroyed by an air strike, making it impossible to reach the south by truck. On August 7, a three-truck MSF convoy transporting medical aid and fuel remained stuck on the northern bank and four tons of supplies had to be carried by hand across the river and loaded onto vehicles on the other side.
Near the border with Israel, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is supplying drugs to medical staff in Bint Jbail and Aaitaroun and has provided consultations in Tebnine, a transit hub for people fleeing the region.
In Saïda (Sidon), 24,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) have been registered in collective centers and an estimated 70,000 in private houses (although the number has increased significantly since the registration was completed). A clinic has been running in Saïda since July 31. On August 4, MSF also started operating mobile clinics that serve four collective centers. Hygiene and cooking kits, as well as baby milk formula, were distributed to 1,500 families in Saïda.
Further east, MSF has been providing non food items to 8,700 displaced in the region of Jezzine, where approximately 20,000 displaced people are registered. MSF supports hospitals in the town of Jezzine, in Nabatiye, and in Jobb Jannine whenever the drug supply is interrupted.
The town of Sibline, just northeast of Saïda, has a well-equipped new hospital, but it lacks medical staff and is not yet operational. MSF is preparing 10 of the 40 beds at this location, and will be able to provide some surgery, if needed.
The situation of the estimated 250,000 displaced people in the Aley region (Chouf Mountains) is deteriorating. All public buildings are occupied by displaced, and people continue to arrive every day. They are forced to take refuge in buildings under construction and amidst ruins of past wars. In particular, the Shia villages to the southwest of Aley (El Qmatiye, Kaifoun, and Souq el Gharb) shelter large concentrations of displaced. MSF has been distributing non food items to 1,280 displaced families and is providing local dispensaries in El Qmatiye and Kaifoun with drugs for the chronically ill.
In Beirut, living conditions for the 120,000 internally displaced people that have been registered in 200 schools and public buildings are rapidly deteriorating. With very little space left, new arrivals are now starting to occupy parks as well. MSF is running two mobile clinics of its own and is supporting two mobile clinics run by local NGOs. MSF guarantees the provision of drugs, including medicines for chronic diseases, and offers care. Between 20 to 30 percent of all consultations are related to mental health problems. The supply of clean water has also become a priority. MSF has begun trucking water and is setting up water reservoirs.
Approximately 200,000 Lebanese refugees are estimated to have crossed into neighboring Syria, many of them finding refuge with relatives or friends. Roughly 30,000 have been able to find shelter in schools and public buildings. MSF sent a cargo plane with medical and relief supplies on August 2, enabling teams to start responding to the needs of 8,500 refugees in Damascus, Tartos, and Homs. The teams would like to scale up aid delivery to all refugees living in public buildings.
As described above, MSF teams have been distributing relief goods to the most needy in different locations. In total, an estimated 25,000 displaced people in Lebanon and 8,500 refugees in Syria have received non-food items such as cooking equipment, mattresses, blankets, stoves, and hygiene kits containing soap, razors, toothbrushes, etc. MSF teams are also improving water and sanitation facilities at sites where displaced people have gathered.
Lebanese medical staff is still coping with most medical needs, but is increasingly running short of medicines, including drugs for treating chronic diseases. MSF has supplied materials for 5,000 hemodialysis treatments. The MSF teams are working with Lebanese medics to set up mobile clinics to cope with the growing demand for medical care for displaced people.
Supplies are still arriving from Europe into neighboring countries where supply bases have been set up. So far, 175 tons of material has reached Beirut from where it still needs to reach the different areas where MSF teams are working. One hundred tons are still waiting in Cyprus for shipment. This material is mainly composed of non-food items (hygiene kits, cooking set, blankets, tents, mattresses), medical material (material for dialysis, medicines, surgical kits, etc...), and logistical material (sanitation equipment, water bladders, vehicles, etc...)