Mennonites join effort to rebuild in Lebanon

By staff writers
August 17, 2006

Mennonites join effort to rebuild in Lebanon

-17/08/06

Despite massive damage to roads, buildings and bridges, thousands of Lebanese displaced by the war are returning to their homes and communities in southern Lebanon ñ writes Gladys Terichow for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the North American relief and development wing of the historic peace church.

In partnership with local Lebanese organizations, MCC is assessing the needs of the people returning to homes that have been damaged or destroyed, said Willie Reimer, director of MCC's Food, Disaster and Material Resources department.

The initial assessment is being carried out by MCC's local staff member, Bassam Chamoun, whose home was damaged in early August 2006 when the town of Ansar in southern Lebanon was the target of an Israeli air attack.

Shortly after the conflict started, Chamoun, his wife Zeinab and their three children, Zelpha, Zeina and Hamoudi, moved to living accommodation adjoining the MCC office in West Beirut.

As soon as possible, Mennonite Central Committee staff from North America plan to join Chamoun and local partners to assess the needs of the returning people and develop a strategy to meet these needs, said Reimer.

In addition to basic survival needs, people directly affected by the conflict are dealing with fear, sorrow and despair created by the deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians, said Reimer.

"All of us are very concerned about the civilian casualties," he noted. "That has been one of the sad markers of this conflictóinnocent people losing their lives and bearing so much hardship. We hope and pray the ceasefire will hold and that we can do this work as soon as possible."

Bombs not only destroy homes and infrastructures, they also destroy the hopes and dreams of people, said Chamoun in a recent interview.

A report from Middle East Council of Churches, a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together and a long-standing MCC partner, states that the death toll in Lebanon resulting from the 34-day conflict has risen to 1,250 people. About 300 people are still missing and about 4,500 are wounded.

About one million people were displaced in Lebanon; many were living in temporary shelters, while others found refuge in neighbouring countries.

The BBC reports that the conflict claimed the lives of 114 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians. Human Rights Watch reports 500,000 Israelis were displaced.

Mennonite Central Committee joined other organizations last month in calling for an end to the violence which is killing and injuring children and other innocent victims of war in Lebanon, Gaza and Israel.

MCC's emergency response in Lebanon and Gaza currently stands at 187,000 US dollars. The organisationís projects in Lebanon and Gaza focus on peace-building, conflict resolution and community development.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonite-backed film helps lift silence on depression 15/08/06; Mennonites see hope amid Congo struggle for democracy 10/08/06; Mennonites respond to massive Lebanese humanitarian needs 09/08/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza 20/07/06; Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God]

Mennonites join effort to rebuild in Lebanon

-17/08/06

Despite massive damage to roads, buildings and bridges, thousands of Lebanese displaced by the war are returning to their homes and communities in southern Lebanon ñ writes Gladys Terichow for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the North American relief and development wing of the historic peace church.

In partnership with local Lebanese organizations, MCC is assessing the needs of the people returning to homes that have been damaged or destroyed, said Willie Reimer, director of MCC's Food, Disaster and Material Resources department.

The initial assessment is being carried out by MCC's local staff member, Bassam Chamoun, whose home was damaged in early August 2006 when the town of Ansar in southern Lebanon was the target of an Israeli air attack.

Shortly after the conflict started, Chamoun, his wife Zeinab and their three children, Zelpha, Zeina and Hamoudi, moved to living accommodation adjoining the MCC office in West Beirut.

As soon as possible, Mennonite Central Committee staff from North America plan to join Chamoun and local partners to assess the needs of the returning people and develop a strategy to meet these needs, said Reimer.

In addition to basic survival needs, people directly affected by the conflict are dealing with fear, sorrow and despair created by the deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians, said Reimer.

"All of us are very concerned about the civilian casualties," he noted. "That has been one of the sad markers of this conflictóinnocent people losing their lives and bearing so much hardship. We hope and pray the ceasefire will hold and that we can do this work as soon as possible."

Bombs not only destroy homes and infrastructures, they also destroy the hopes and dreams of people, said Chamoun in a recent interview.

A report from Middle East Council of Churches, a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together and a long-standing MCC partner, states that the death toll in Lebanon resulting from the 34-day conflict has risen to 1,250 people. About 300 people are still missing and about 4,500 are wounded.

About one million people were displaced in Lebanon; many were living in temporary shelters, while others found refuge in neighbouring countries.

The BBC reports that the conflict claimed the lives of 114 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians. Human Rights Watch reports 500,000 Israelis were displaced.

Mennonite Central Committee joined other organizations last month in calling for an end to the violence which is killing and injuring children and other innocent victims of war in Lebanon, Gaza and Israel.

MCC's emergency response in Lebanon and Gaza currently stands at 187,000 US dollars. The organisationís projects in Lebanon and Gaza focus on peace-building, conflict resolution and community development.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonite-backed film helps lift silence on depression 15/08/06; Mennonites see hope amid Congo struggle for democracy 10/08/06; Mennonites respond to massive Lebanese humanitarian needs 09/08/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza 20/07/06; Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God]

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