Continuing fighting in Lebanon’s second city, Tripoli, is undermining the security and livelihoods of those living on the frontline of violence. The ICRC and the Lebanese Red Cross Society are working together to help those whose lives have been disrupted.
“I was walking down the street when I was shot in the leg. I couldn’t see the gunman, who was hiding in one of the buildings around me. I was rushed to hospital and spent the night receiving treatment. That was seven months ago.”
Abdulhadi was 16 years old when he was targeted by gunmen in Tripoli, which has suffered extreme violence in the past year. Despite its relative distance from the border with Syria, fighting here and elsewhere in Lebanon provides a graphic example of how conflict in war-torn Syria affects the divided communities of its neighbouring countries.
Friends and neighbours of Abdulhadi – gathering at an ICRC and Lebanese Red Cross distribution point issuing food, blankets and hygiene items in the Qobbeh district of Tripoli – told of their experiences of the fighting and the damaging impact it has had on the lives and livelihoods of their families.
Khaled (44) has four children aged between one-and-a-half and fourteen. Life, he said, has become very hard. He works in construction but sporadic and unpredictable violence has meant calls for his services have plummeted. “There is no demand for my skills and I have to stay at home to protect my wife and children,” he says. “Without money coming in, it is difficult, so food, soap and blankets from the Red Cross helps us to make ends meet,” he adds.
The reality of life
A cursory glance at the apartment blocks surrounding the ICRC distribution point where the community is gathering makes instantly clear the reality of life here. Bullets have pockmarked walls and shattered windows, and there is a real sense of fear.
Fawaz (30) has a wife and two children aged five and seven. His shop has been shot at numerous times in the past year. “When the fighting rages, nobody comes and it is too dangerous to work, so I cannot earn money to provide for my children,” he says.
Lack of security for families goes hand in hand with the economic health of a community. With shops shut, workers at home and children unable to go to school, the livelihoods of hundreds of families have been drastically disrupted.
In such a situation, the work of the ICRC and the Lebanese Red Cross, providing the daily essentials of life, brings some succour to the inhabitants of impoverished neighbourhoods in Tripoli affected by violence.