UNHCR distributes aid to hundreds of Lebanese, Syrians fleeing fighting in Arsal

News Stories, 8 August 2014

© UNHCR/M.Hofer
A Syrian refugee mother waits in line with her child to collect aid. The photograph was taken in Arsal before the latest displacement in the Lebanese town.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, August 8 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency, working with the government and other partners in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, is distributing vital aid to Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees who have fled fighting between the military and armed groups in the town of Arsal, close to the Syrian border. The aid includes hygiene and baby kits, mattresses, blankets, bread and canned food.

Lebanese municipal authorities estimate that more than 2,000 Lebanese and Syrian people, mainly women and children, have fled Arsal since the clashes began on Saturday. They are currently sheltering in private houses, community centres and schools in Bekaa towns such as Al Marj, Bar Elias and Baalbek.

With movement into, and within, Arsal still curtailed by the security situation, access remains limited and reports indicate that food stocks and baby supplies are running low.

Electricity remains cut off, preventing pumping of water from wells, and the water supply is precarious. However, two water trucks were able to deliver water on Wednesday to various homes and collective shelters in the town.

Reports indicate that health care centres in Arsal are running low on medical supplies. Primary care and mobile medical unit activities have mostly been suspended, with only one primary care centre open to receive patients. Humanitarian agencies have dispatched mobile medical units to areas and towns in the Bekaa hosting those displaced from Arsal.

Those who were able to flee the town cite security concerns, including the risk of being caught in crossfire, as the main reason for leaving their homes. Some 35,000 Lebanese civilians live in Arsal, while in the same town UNHCR has registered 42,000 Syrian refugees who fled from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, now well into its fourth year.

Lebanon currently hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country, with UNHCR having registered 1.2 million, equivalent to more than a quarter of Lebanon's resident population. Most of these registered refugees, over 400,000, are in the Bekaa Valley in the north-east.

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2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

Lebanon Crisis: UNHCR Gears Up

The UN refugee agency is gearing up for a multi-million-dollar operation in the Middle East aimed at assisting tens of thousands of people displaced by the current crisis in Lebanon.

Conditions for fleeing Lebanese seeking refuge in the mountain areas north of Beirut are precarious, with relief supplies needed urgently to cope with the growing number of displaced. More than 80,0000 people have fled to the Aley valley north of Beirut. Some 38,000 of them are living in schools.

In close collaboration with local authorities, UNHCR teams have been working in the mountain regions since early last week, assessing the situation and buying supplies, particularly mattresses, to help ease the strain on those living in public buildings.

Lebanon Crisis: UNHCR Gears Up

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