Lebanon

Fighting in South Lebanon forces children to stay indoors

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Clashes between the Lebanese Army and the Jund al-Sham militant group in Sidon, Lebanon, continued into the early hours this morning. Children from SOS Children's Village Sferai and youngsters from SOS youth homes in a suburb of Saida remained in the relative safety of their homes.

SOS Children's Village Sferai was affected by the fighting nearby, and as a precaution all of the children, like most of the children in the south of Lebanon, stayed at home Sunday evening. Lina Sarkis, assistant national director for administration at the Lebanese SOS Children's Villages association, said co-workers have made sure that there are enough supplies in the children's village in case the violence escalates. The youths in the SOS youth houses of Abra are also safe at home and have enough supplies case of an emergency.

"It seems as though our wishes and hopes are far from being realized," said Sarkis. "We were just informed by the soldiers from the neighbouring army barracks [next door to the SOS Children's Village] that they arrested a person with a bag containing 30 kilograms of explosives, trying to plant it right under our windows."

Fighting began when a militant threw a hand grenade at an army checkpoint just outside the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, according to news reports. At least five people were injured in the ensuing conflict.

Sarkis is hoping for a return to normalcy in the children's village and youth homes: "We really hope that the children won't have to miss school any longer, especially because many of them have official exams to sit for; nevertheless, their safety is our first priority."