World Vision Lebanon's response to the needs of thousands of displaced Palestinian refugee families gathered momentum this week as fierce battles between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese Army continue unabated.
The fighting at the Naher el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli in north Lebanon, now in its third week, has claimed more than 100 civilian, soldier and militant lives and displaced more than 30,000 people.
Nearly two-thirds of those, approximately 19,000 people, have gone to the nearby Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp. There they have crammed into tiny apartments with friends or family or found shelter in overcrowded school classrooms and hallways, leading to fears of the spread of disease and infection, including lice and scabies.
"As you walk through the camp, you can actually feel the pain," said Tony Matar, relief manager for the response.
World Vision has responded to the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable children affected by the fighting by distributing 2,248 baby hygiene kits with enough supplies to last a week. The kits include diapers, disinfectants, anti-bacterial wipes, change cream, baby shampoo, small towels and a cloth.
This week World Vision will distributed 2,500 more kits to replenish supplies used since the last distribution and to add additional items, such as baby bottles. Distributions have expanded to include Bourj el-Barajneh and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps, where smaller numbers of displaced families have fled.
The UN has reported more than 200 women are expected to deliver soon and that there are many cases of newborns sleeping on school floors. Tomorrow World Vision will start distribution of 200 baby cribs and sets of baby clothes to mothers near their delivery date and mothers with newborns.
World Vision will also provide water mattresses for children with special needs.
To help children cope with this ordeal, World Vision will supply five tents and recreational kits to support children's activities being carried out in the camps. World Vision will also provide partners with training on child protection.
Meanwhile, several incidents over the past two days have raised fears that the fighting may spread to other Palestinian refugee camps. The Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of the Levant or Historic Syria) group have attacked Lebanese Army positions near the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon. Two Lebanese Army soldiers have been killed in the clashes.
World Vision has a community development programme in East Sidon where the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp is located. Programmes there have been suspended for now, but there is no reported impact on the sponsored children.
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