On 20 May 2007 fierce clashes erupted between the radical group Fatah al Islam (FAI) and the Lebanese Army LAF) in Tripoli (northern Lebanon) and quickly spread to nearby Nahr el-Bared camp (NBC). The vast majority of NBC Palestine refugees fled their homes, most taking refuge in nearby Beddawi camp. It was not until three months later on 2nd September that FAI gave up their resistance and LAF finally gained control of the camp.
NBC facilities and infrastructure have been badly damaged by the fighting and shelling. It is estimated that 90 percent of the camp infrastructure has been destroyed or badly damaged. Water services in the camp are almost certainly no longer functioning and most of the water reservoirs that serve the camp have been severely damaged.
As a consequence of the displacement from NBC, the population of Beddawi camp has increased from 16,000 to more than 30,000 persons, seriously stretching the already congested living conditions of the residents and overburdening the existing infrastructure. Water services in Beddawi camp are currently able to meet the needs of the displaced, though water shortages will appear in the near future. UNRWA's Water and Sanitation Team is monitoring the private households' facilities and repairing them as necessary to avoid putting these households under further strain.
On average 2,800 of the displaced are living in improvised shelters, such as UNRWA and Government schools in and around the Beddawi area, and have scarce resources to purchase food and essential supplies.
On 4 June 2007 UNRWA launched a Flash Appeal for US $12.7 million to address the urgent needs of thousands of displaced Palestine refugees and their host families. So far the response of the international community has been very generous and some US $17,000,000 was been pledged.(1) UNRWA is the lead agency in coordinating and implementing the activities related to the present crisis in northern Lebanon.
The current conflict has imposed upon UNRWA an emergency situation requiring urgent action while UNRWA continues regular operations to serve hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees. This has caused an added strain on UNRWA resources and staff, therefore the Agency is in the process of augmenting its human resources to assist with the emergency operations.
The Flash Appeal enabled the Agency to cater to the immediate needs of the displaced Palestine refugees, in close cooperation with other UN Agencies and with the support of the Lebanese Government. The Flash Appeal represented an assessment of the cost of delivering assistance to the displaced over a three month period (June-August 2007). It included plans for immediate food and non-food assistance and to ensure suitable temporary shelters and safeguard minimum living standards for the displaced.
(1) Please refer to Annex A on Pledges towards Flash Appeal 2007