Lebanon + 1 more

Christian Aid partner responds to latest crisis in Lebanon's refugee camps

A Christian Aid partner has dispatched vital supplies to Palestinian refugees in northern Lebanon, as fighting continues for a sixth day between Lebanese troops and Fatah al-Islam militants.

Fighting resumed Thursday night (May 24) in the Nahr al-Bared camp, after a previous lull in fighting provided an opportunity for around 25,000 Palestinian refugees to flee the camp.

Association Najdeh, the Christian Aid partner, has an office in Nahr al-Bared and a long history of working in the camp. It is cooperating with the Lebanese army and the UN to gain access to the camp, in order to provide food and hygiene kits.

'Following yesterday's heavy gunfire and shelling between the militants and the Lebanese army, Najdeh staff are remaining in their homes,' said Leila El Ali, Najdeh's director. 'We must put pressure on both sides to stop the fighting, so we can open up the camp to allow humanitarian agencies in to provide relief.'

This current crisis has stretched Nahr al-Bared to the limit. Ground floor flats and homes are sheltering those displaced from bombed areas, and waste is accumulating. Seven water tanks and the water network and system have been affected, which has left people reliant on dwindling supplies.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency runs a clinic in the camp, but its peripheral location means the estimated 10,000 people who have stayed behind, including many elderly people, cannot access it. There are also shortages of medical supplies and equipment as well as mattresses and blankets.

Neighbouring Baddawi camp is sheltering 18,000 people displaced from Nahr al-Bared, and a further 7,000 people have moved to camps further south.

'Hundreds of displaced Palestinian families are now moving from Baddawi down to the camps around Tyre, due to overcrowding, environmental health problems and lack of water,' added Ms El Ali.

Continuing insecurity is making coordination and the exchange of information very difficult so Najdeh is trying to improve local cooperation among non-governmental organisations working in the camps.

Christian Aid has pledged $50,000 for Najdeh's response to the current crisis.