Lebanon destruction a 'crime against humanity' says aid group
Volunteers and staff from a church-supported organisation working to help those displaced by the conflict in Lebanon say the world needs to understand the depths of the humanitarian crisis unfolding there.
ìThe news isnít showing the reality of what is happening here,î said Pascale Kolakez, a psychologist speaking from a Beirut school that Mouvement Social (MS) has converted into a shelter for displaced people.
She continued: ìPlease show the reality. People have lost everything, even the future of their children. Whatís happening in Lebanon is a crime against humanity.î
Despite being physically and morally exhausted from the scale of destruction facing Lebanon, those working with MS have chosen to stay and help those most in need.
Staff and volunteers are using various methods to raise morale among those sheltering from the bombing and are encouraging participation in communal cleaning and cooking.
ìWe are trying to make them take action so they feel they are doing something positive to change the situation,î said Kolakez. ìPeople are very tired and worried about their homes. [But] there is a feeling that they are one big family.î
After a fortnight of bombing and blockades from the sea and air, stocks of food and medicines are running out in many areas of Lebanon. Beirutís fire engines have been distributing drinking water on a daily basis to the 180 schools in the city that are serving as makeshift shelters.
There is a serious shortage of mattresses and bedding as well as toothpaste, nappies for children over six months, and underwear. Many fled their homes so quickly they had no time to collect any of their belongings.
ìWe will be okay for food and water for another weekÖ we have enough basic medicine supplies for one more week but if something urgent comes up then not so long,î added Kolakez.
Mouvement Social is also helping people cope emotionally with their new circumstances and maintain their human dignity. Kolakez explained: ìWe want to let refugees know that losing their houses doesnít mean that they have lost their dignity. Every person has rights and we are helping to give them their rights.î
With emergency funding from Christian Aid, Mennonite Central Committee and other church and civil society and development agencies Mouvement Social is providing help to 3,000 internally-displaced people, shelter in schools, food, milk, clothes and sanitary items.
ìThe war should end because it is not the solution ñ it never was the solution,î said Kolakez. ìPeople and children are dying, families are dyingÖî
Donations may be made here to Christian Aid's Middle East crisis appeal.
[Also on Ekklesia: No way to security through fighting, says Holy Land bishop 29/07/06; Blair to press Bush for ceasefire as churches push for peace 28/07/06; Israel sees ceasefire hesitancy as a green light for its Lebanon bombing 27/07/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Christian groups urge Blair to back ceasefire calls 26/07/06; South African churches propose bold Middle East conflict transformation process 26/07/06; Why violence cannot solve Lebanon or Gaza Strip showdowns 24/07/06; Christian Aid emergency appeal swings into action 24/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Middle East churches document and condemn Lebanon horror 23/07/06; 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 imperiling 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]