In the past two weeks, Mercy Corps has offered comfort to families who fled heavy fighting in Nahr el-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon's north.
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Lebanon Country Director Sarah Warren and Ibrahim Abou-Khalil, our Youth and Education program manager, personally delivered 1,500 personal hygiene kits to the nearby Beddawi camp, where more than 20,000 people have taken shelter in schools, mosques, private homes and wherever else they can find any space on the floor to sleep.
"Most people left their homes with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing and are relying completely on donations to survive," says Warren. The population of the Beddawi camp has more than doubled since the fighting began on May 20.
Mercy Corps also sent 1,600 hygiene kits - filled with items such as soap, toothpaste and towels - and 50 soccer balls for youth activities to two similarly overwhelmed refugee camps just south of Beirut, Bourj el Barajne and Shatilla. More than 500 families from the north have crowded into homes and community centers there.
In visiting some of these families this week, Mercy Corps staff found people huddled together in extremely crowded conditions. In one case, 26 people - mostly women and young children - were sharing a couple of rooms furnished with nothing more than mattresses.
"They looked tired and anxious, and they had nothing to keep them occupied throughout the day or to distract them from worrying about the safety of their loved ones who stayed behind in Nahr el Bared," Warren says.
Mercy Corps continues to monitor humanitarian needs and stay in touch with other local and international relief agencies responding to the massive displacement. Our work continues in and around Beirut, and in Lebanon's primarily agrarian south, on a relief-to-recovery program that has reached more than 450,000 people since last summer's Israel-Hezbolla