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Lebanon: UNHCR teams now operating across southern Lebanon

Briefing notes

Lebanon: UNHCR teams now operating across southern Lebanon

29 August 2006 Also available in:

UNHCR relief convoys are heading into the villages of south Lebanon daily. Up to yesterday, there had been 17 convoys, carrying thousands of essential items like tents, blankets, mattresses and cooking kits. As well as our own trucks, we are using rented trucks to speed up the delivery. Distribution methods vary with the location, but generally we deliver items to a village and the distribution is organised by local officials to make sure the aid supplies reach the most needy. The tents are an emergency measure to help those whose houses are destroyed or too damaged to live in while they rebuild. UNHCR teams are now operating across southern Lebanon, delivering items from our warehouses in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre. More emergency relief supplies continue to arrive in Lebanon to support this programme of aiding the victims of the war.

At the same time, our teams are discovering more of the complexity of the displacement situation. While most of the nearly one million Lebanese who fled their homes at the height of the conflict are now home, thousands remain displaced either because their homes are destroyed or because of continuing security concerns. Many of those still displaced are staying with friends or relatives in the vicinity of their destroyed homes. But others are further away, and UNHCR has found even a few families that returned to Syria until they feel able to return home. Teams are now visiting the relatively few displaced Lebanese remaining in Syria.

Larger pockets, often of several thousand displaced, remain in many areas of Lebanon. In Beirut, the charity Caritas estimates 35,000 internally displaced Lebanese are still in the capital. Most assistance is coming from government bodies, but UNHCR teams are also assisting those in need by providing items like tents, blankets and mattresses. UNHCR staff are also reporting evidence of the psychological effects of the war, especially on children. In Sidon and Nabatiyah, UNHCR is providing tents to the local authorities who are organizing boy scout camping for children in the areas as a way to ease the trauma of the war.