IRC Bolsters Emergency Team in Lebanon
IRC experts on emergency aid for women and children, as well as a public health specialist traveled from Cyprus to Beirut today aboard a ship chartered by the Canadian government—joining the IRC’s emergency advance team, already on the ground.
The IRC is expanding its mission in Lebanon as thousands of uprooted civilians head to areas in and north of Beirut every day, moving into crowded public spaces, dilapidated apartments, and the homes of increasingly stretched host families.
As the numbers increase, so does the demand for basic necessities like clean water for drinking and bathing.
IRC plans are taking shape to work with local organizations on improving water supply, sanitation and especially hygiene in congested settlements, where latrines are overflowing and lice infestations are a growing problem.
In the town of Alay, some 40 minutes from Beirut, some 450 uprooted people are stuffed into classrooms at a school turned homeless shelter. One extended family of 22, a father, mother, two sons and their families, are crammed into a single room.
They were successful tobacco farmers in southern Lebanon and fled north when the conflict between Hezbollah militants and Israel escalated. Speaking to IRC’s emergency team, the family said it had just learned the devastating news that bombs landed in their village, decimating their home, their farmland and their latest harvest.
The parents are now showing signs of anxiety and stress, as are their children—which is why the IRC is gearing up to provide recreational and healing activities for the kids.
“We’ll be working to support a local group in setting up structured activities for the children,” says Stephen Hamner, the IRC’s focal point for aiding children in Lebanon.