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 News: Crisis in Lebanon - 21 Aug 2006

Latest NewsCrisis in Lebanon - 21 Aug 2006
ReliefWeb, Switzerland

As both the Hezbollah and Israeli forces in Lebanon continue to observe the August 14 cease-fire, there is a sense of guarded relief among the Lebanese people. Estimates are that close to one-third of the almost 1 million who were displaced by the fighting have left where they were being sheltered and have returned home, not knowing what they might find. A number of villages in southern Lebanon have been flattened and thousands of people now have no homes to return to.

Throughout the conflict, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has worked with its partner, Caritas Lebanon, to provide food, hygiene materials, medical and psychological assistance to more than 85,000 beneficiaries from across Lebanon who were forced by the bombing to flee their homes.

CRS has pledged $10 million to relief efforts in Gaza, Lebanon and northern Israel. With the cease-fire and the fact that most people are leaving the shelters and returning home, CRS' efforts are now shifting from providing food and other emergency relief items to repairing and helping rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed during the conflict.

In the southern port town of Saida (Sidon), CRS has been ...

working with another local partner, Development for the People and Nature Association, to provide food, medicine, hygiene supplies and psychological support to 150 families. While many of these families have also begun the journey home, the center that provided shelter to these families will remain open for at least another week or two to continue to meet the needs of those who have been left homeless by the conflict. "Absolutely, we will not yet close this center," says CRS staff member Ali El-Benni who has been heading up our program in Saida. "Because when people get home and see the destruction that is there, they will come back."

During the height of the conflict, the government estimates that about 950,000 people were displaced. The vast majority of this displaced population sought shelter at relief centers or in the homes of host families throughout Lebanon. Since the cease-fire was declared, an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 displaced people have made the journey back to their homes and have begun the arduous task of putting their lives back together.

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