Lebanon + 1 more

CARE helps refugees caught in Lebanon crossfire

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Lebanon (May 31, 2007) - CARE is providing aid to civilians caught in an ongoing confrontation between the Lebanese Army and militants of the Fatah al-Islam faction.

Fighting between Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam erupted on May 20, after Lebanese authorities tried to arrest suspects in a bank robbery. The fighting quickly escalated and spread to the Naher al-Bared refugee camp, which is home to 28,000 Palestinian refugee.. An estimated 23,000 people have fled the camp. Some 16,000 have found temporary shelter in a neighboring refugee camp, Al Bedawi, while another 3,000 have gone to Tripoli and 4,000 have gone further to Beirut and camps in the South nearby areas.

CARE is primarily concerned with moving supplies to civilians displaced by the fighting, and with opening up humanitarian access to up to 5,000 people still trapped in the camp. Electricity to the camp stopped when the fighting broke out, and much of the camp's water system was damaged. Continued fighting has made getting food and water into the camp a hazardous proposition, and with garbage piling up inside the camp there is danger of an outbreak of disease.

"Many of those trapped are believed to be the elderly, sick, handicapped and injured ," says Harriet Dodd , CARE's country director for Jordan, who is overseeing CARE's work in Lebanon. "We are very concerned for the survival of these people if no safe corridor to deliver humanitarian assistance is secured immediately. Refugee families, many of whom have young children, were poor before they fled and are seeking refuge in already the crowded and impoverished environments that are typical of Palestinian camps in Lebanon. This is both an issue for immediate assistance and long-term review of the conditions in which they live."

Working in close coordination with UNRWA and other local agencies , CARE is focusing on providing mattresses and bedding for 3,000 of the displaced people.

CARE has been active in Middle East since 1948 and in Lebanon since 2006. It has provided health and nutritional support to pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants affected by the July War. CARE provided emergency support to waste water treatment in southern Lebanon and rehabilitation to rainwater storage facilities, and currently gives economic support to fishermen whose livelihoods were affected by the war and environmental damage in southern Lebanon.

Media Contacts:

Atlanta: Rick Perera, rperera@care.org, (404) 979-9453
Geneva: William Dowell, dowell@careinternational.org, +41-79 590 3047