Lebanon + 1 more

Urgent calls for humanitarian access in Lebanon

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Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of 162 Catholic NGOs of which Trócaire is a member, is calling for the creation of humanitarian corridors to reach people caught in fighting in the north of Lebanon.

Lebanese forces confronted hundreds of militants (fateh el Islam) in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. The camp is home to over 40,000 refugees, out of a total of 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon.

Caritas is calling on all sides to respect international humanitarian law that guarantees the safety of civilians. Trócaire partner, Caritas Lebanon, says civilians are being caught in the attacks on the camps that are currently cut off from the outside world.

A group from Caritas Lebanon travelled to Tripoli and were approached by the Palestinian camps civilian leaders for help with medical and food supplies. Caritas Lebanon are working on a response; the Director of their Emergency Unit, Najla Chahda said,

"We need a humanitarian corridor into the besieged camp to find out what the needs are of the civilians caught in the fighting and how to respond best to them. It's impossible to say what will be required but we fear it will be medical supplies for the injured and food supplies. We also need aid for those Palestinians who have fled the camps and are living with host families in the area."

She fears that the violence, the worst Lebanon has witnessed since the end of civil war, could destabilise the country again. The fighting coincides with the explosion in Beirut this week. Chahda noted "the situation is very worrying. It feels like the clock has been rewound 25 years to the start of the civil war. We don't know what to expect from one moment to the next. We pray for peace and that Lebanon can be saved from any further suffering."

This fighting comes less then a year after the massive eruption of violence linked to the Israeli invasion of south Lebanon in July 2006. During that period Trócaire's partners Caritas Lebanon and Catholic Relief Services provided a humanitarian emergency response. Since the war ended Trócaire has been working with our partners on the ground in mine clearing programmes and providing relief for those who suffered most during the conflict itself.

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland

Catherine Ginty,
Press Officer,
Trócaire.
T: +353 1 505 3270
M: 086 629 3994

Northern Ireland & UK

David O'Hare ,
Press Officer,
Trócaire.
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884