in Lebanon - 21 Aug 2006
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.