IRC Distributes Needed Supplies to Displaced Lebanese at Shatila Camp
The supplies, which were delivered to some 350 uprooted Lebanese and 150 of their hosts, included sanitary items for women, soap, tooth brushes and toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, sponges, plastic bowls, plates, cutlery, mops, brooms and other items.
“This was the first distribution of these types of supplies for the families and they were so happy to receive them, especially the women,” says Leila El Ali, Najdeh’s executive director.
During the fighting in July and August, more than 70 Lebanese families found shelter at Shatila Camp–where some 12,000 Palestinians and 6,000 impoverished migrants from other countries live.
It was at this camp in 1982 that, with the support of Israeli forces, Christian Lebanese militias carried out the now infamous massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.
The camp is still squalid and congested, with residents living in decrepit apartments and shacks, squashed together along narrow passageways. There is virtually no running water or electricity and sanitation is extremely poor. There is also no place for children to play.
In spite of limited space and supplies, Palestinian residents took in the newcomers, fleeing their bombarded villages.
With the ceasefire holding, El Ali says about half of the families returned to their homes in southern Lebanon and southern suburbs of Beirut this week. She noted that the hygiene and other relief supplies will be very useful for those whose homes were destroyed.
The other half of the displaced families are staying in Shatila for the moment.
“These are very poor people and even though there is money now for reconstruction, they feel that they aren’t able to rebuild,” says El Ali. “And they are still afraid. They fear that it is not over, that the fighting will resume.”
The International Rescue Committee and Association Najdeh are planning additional distributions of supplies in Shatila and in southern Lebanon, with a focus on the special needs of women and children.
The two groups are also working together on programs that will address emotional, physical and safety concerns for women and girls both in areas of return and in displacement sites.