The situation in Nahr el-Bared camp in north Lebanon remained very tense today with sporadic shooting in the morning and the latest reports indicating that fighting has broken out again. The ICRC remains extremely concerned about the security of the civilians inside the camp who are in urgent need protection and assistance.
The precarious truce in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared that began last Tuesday afternoon has allowed thousands of civilian residents to flee the besieged camp. According to local sources in Nahr el-Bared, some 20,000 residents are still inside the camp.
The majority of the displaced population sought shelter at the nearby refugee camp of Beddawi.
Damage to civilian infrastructure triggers urgent needs for water and other assistance
Certain areas of Nahr el-Bared camp have sustained heavy damage and the camp is without electricity. An ICRC team which was inside the camp reports that the camp's water supply system was damaged during the fighting and is now out of service. A strong stench from garbage and, probably, from decomposing bodies fills the air.
The priority humanitarian needs at this stage include water, food, hygiene items and medical supplies.
Today ICRC teams brought a first delivery of 17,000 litres of drinking water to the camp, where the local popular committees distributed the water to the population. Bladder tanks and other equipment have been brought close to the area in case needs increase.
Influx of displaced civilians into Bedawwi Camp creates new needs
An ICRC assessment found that there is no immediate need for water in Beddawi camp, since the distribution system can cope with the new arrivals. Having fled their homes with few or no belongings, the displaced persons, however, need bedding (mattresses, blankets), food and hygiene materials.
On 23 May, the ICRC distributed 20 tons of ready-to-eat meals with the help of Lebanese Red Cross youth volunteers in Bedawwi camp; another 20 tons are being distributed today.
The Beddawi refugee camp, which has a resident population of 11,000, received the majority of the roughly 15'000 displaced people from Nahr el-Bared camp. They are accommodated in UNRWA schools and mosques. Other displaced refugees are staying with families or friends outside the camp as well as in Tripoli.
Safety of medical services remains a priority
Since the fighting erupted on Sunday 20 May, the first priority has been to seek the best possible access and safety for medical services to rescue and evacuate the wounded and sick. With ICRC support, the emergency medical services of Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) ensured medical evacuations and supplied the medical structures in and outside the camp.
The ICRC, LRC and PRCS remained in contact with the parties involved in the fighting to facilitate and coordinate ambulance movements. Nevertheless, the emergency medical services have been working under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions and have taken considerable risks to save lives.
So far, over 80 wounded (including an unspecified number of civilians), 26 other medical cases, 35 corpses and 430 civilians have been evacuated from the camp by the PRCS and LRC.
As fighting has reportedly erupted again, the ICRC repeats its urgent message to all parties involved: medical personnel and humanitarian workers must be allowed to carry out their tasks and have unimpeded access to the wounded. Medical personnel, vehicles and facilities must be spared the consequences of the violence.
First relief convoy expected to reach Lebanon today
Today an ICRC convoy of 11 truckloads with over 220 tons of food is expected to arrive in Lebanon from the ICRC logistics base in Amman. Water and other relief items have also been bought locally in Lebanon.
The ICRC operates in an integrated way with the Lebanese Red Cross and the Palestine Red Crescent Society as well as other partners of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The ICRC and Movement partners work in close cooperation with UNWRA and other UN agencies.
For further information, please contact:
Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 217 32 64
Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Beirut, tel +961 1 739 297/8/9 or +961 70 12 98 69
or visit our website: www.icrc.org