Lebanon + 1 more

Caritas calls for humanitarian access in Lebanon

Caritas Internationalis is urging for the creation of humanitarian corridors to reach people caught in the fighting in the north of Lebanon.

Lebanese forces have been in confrontation with hundreds of militants (fateh el Islam) holed up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Nahr al-Bared is home to more 40,000 refugees, out of a total of 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon.

Caritas is calling on all sides to respect international humanitarian law that guarantees the safety of civilians.

Caritas Lebanon says civilians are being caught in the attacks on the camps which are currently cut off from the outside world.

A group from Caritas Lebanon has travelled to Tripoli and have been approached by the Palestinian camps civilian leaders for help with medical and food supplies, and is working out how best to respond.

Caritas Lebanon's Director of the Emergency Unit Najla Chahda said, "We need a humanitarian corridor into the besieged camp to find out what the needs are of the civilians caught in the fighting and how to respond best to them. It's impossible to say what will be required but we fear it will be medical supplies for the injured and food supplies.

"We also need aid for those Palestinians who have fled the camps and are living with host families in the area."

She fears that the violence, the worst Lebanon has witness since the end of civil war, could destabilise the country again. The fighting has occurred at the same as an explosion in Beirut this week.

She said, "The situation is very worrying. It feels like the clock has been rewound 25 years to the start of the civil war. We don't know what to expect from one moment to the next. We pray for peace and that Lebanon can be saved from any further suffering."

Caritas Lebanon worked throughout the civil war, providing aid across the religious divide. Currently, Caritas has been helping with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of communities affected by last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

For more information, contact: Nancy McNally, Tel: +39 06 69879752 Mobile: +39 334 2344 136 mcnally@caritas.va or visit www.caritas.org