Middle East churches document and condemn Lebanon horror
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) reports some 750 people killed, 1,200 injured and 650,000 people displace in Lebanon, following the actions of the Israeli military against Hezbollah.
Writing from Beirut, Guirgis I. Saleh, general secretary of the MECC, declared: "Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms."
The Middle East Council of Churches ñ which brings together the historic Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Anglican traditions ñ has condemned Israel's incursion into Lebanon.
It has also reactivated its emergency relief agency to assist the innocent victims of this latest Mideast violence ñ through the Inter-church Network for Development and Relief in Lebanon.
Mennonite Central Committee, the North American inter-Mennonite aid and development agency, has played a key role in helping this to happen, says the MECC.
The full MECC report, issued on 22 July 2006, reads as follows:
ìDuring the past 24 hours, the Israeli military operations have grown in intensity, with the use of internationally banned arms, particularly in the South of Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Beqa'. Heavy shelling has targeted residential buildings and innocent civilians, in addition to the destruction of factories (milk) and farms. The Israeli army has tried to advance into Lebanese territory, facing strong resistance by Hizbollah fighters.
ìSince our last update of 19 July, the death toll has reached around 750 (including those still buried under the rubbles) and the number of the injured has gone up to 1,200. 650,000 persons are now reported to have been displaced. Entire villages are burnt and destroyed, hundreds of families have been torn apart and basic infrastructure (buildings, bridges, highways, electric power stations, gas stations to every port on the Lebanese coast, the International airport as well as small military airports) severely damaged.
ìDespite the many centres opened for the population in the different sectors of Beirut and regions of Lebanon where the displaced have taken refuge, hundreds have settled in public gardens and parks where tents have been installed.
ìThe blockade has lead to the decreasing availability of fuel, butane gas and fuel oil, as well as food and medicines. As a result, prices have gone up and fluctuate from one hour to the other.
MECC and ICNDR (Inter-church Network for Development and Relief in Lebanon) was able to start its response thanks to the rapid response and support provided by the Mennonite Central Committee in Lebanon. ICNDR's immediate action reached 260 displaced families in Mount Lebanon and Beirut, providing food supplies. This was implemented with the help of local partners and associations.
ìField trips carried by ICNDR staff and freelancers revealed the extent of the need for immediate intervention. Data concerning the displaced including numbers and their most urgent needs are available. Implementation will be possible with the availability of funds, particularly in the North, Beqaa, Beirut and Mount Lebanon. As for the South, the relief operations will be very difficult due to continuous shelling, air raids and complete destruction of roads. Two colleagues Ghaith Maalouf and Robert Nicolas and their families are safe and managed to flee the shelling targeting civilians in their villages. The church they had sought refuge in was damaged and 5 were injured. Nevertheless, ICNDR local partners are ready to secure goods from the local markets and arrange for their distribution in coordination with the Lebanese army and Red Cross.
ìIn Beshwet, the ICNDR centre for the mentally handicapped opened its doors to 75 displaced persons mostly women and children and is relying on friends and neighbours as the only source of support to secure food on a daily basis.
ìIt should be noted that the Lebanese population living in the proximity of centres for the displaced is expressing solidarity and providing support to the displaced families, offering hot meals, clothes, blankets, sheets and other basic items.
ìIn Beirut, ICNDR staff are deploying efforts and working with the municipality to secure water to one of the referral centres, a public garden, where 100 families are settled and where no facilities or access to water are available. Food items were offered yesterday morning to these families
ìIn the North, the expressed priorities include mattresses, sheets, diapers, infant formula and medication for chronic diseases in the areas of Tripoli, Akkar and Batroun.
The MECC report concludes: ìThe evacuation of non-nationals continues by sea to Cyprus or by land via Syria.î
[Also on Ekklesia: US churches appeal to Bush as Israel seizes Lebanese village 23/07/06; Aid agencies say Blair must call for immediate Middle East ceasefire 22/07/06; WCC urges churches to support Middle East appeals 21/07/06; Churches redouble efforts and prayers for an end to Middle East hostilities 21/07/06; Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence 20/07/06; Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperilling Middle East security 19/07/06; Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; UK church and aid agencies concerned over Gaza situation]