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OPT/Lebanon: Situation Report, 08 Jun 2007

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NORTH LEBANON

Nahr El Bared refugee camp: Heavy fighting flared anew between Lebanese troops and Fatah al-Islam elements at the northern refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared amid reports that the army has stepped up its ground offensive into the camp. A Lebanese soldier was killed by a Fatah al-Islam sniper on 07 June and three others were wounded, bringing the total number of troops killed to 47.

The Islamic Action Front, meanwhile, delegated several people within the camp to hold talks with senior members of Fatah al-Islam. Islamic Action Front leader Fathi Yakan told Reuters that the militants have reached a dead end and "the only thing that will convince them is Sharia and religious reason."

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora reiterated his government's commitment to eliminating Fatah al-Islam and called on the remaining militants to surrender promising them "a fair trial".

Speaking from Ramallah on 06 June, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Lebanon Abbas Zaki said Palestinians in Lebanon should be permitted to set up "their own security force" in refugee camps to prevent the future formation of armed gangs such as Fatah al-Islam. Zaki said that PLO is proposing the establishment of a Palestinian security force of 4,000-5,000 members in the 12 camps throughout Lebanon. Zaki also stated that the fighting in Nahr el-Bared is in its final stages, and the militants are asking to be allowed to stay in the camp or to be given asylum in another country.

On the humanitarian front, some 45 refugees were evacuated from the Nahr el-Bared camp on 07 June by the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Lebanese Red Cross. The majority of the evacuees were young men, who were questioned by the army.

Six UNRWA staff members remain inside Nahr el-Bared. The humanitarian situation inside Nahr el-Bared is deteriorating. The ICRC entered the camp on 08 June with water and canned food supplies and evacuated 33 civilians. Yesterday the ICRC had evacuated 141 civilians. It is estimated that 5,783 families have left Nahr el-Bared so far.

Beddawi refugee camp: In neighbouring Beddawi, all UNRWA installations (other than schools) are operating normally. Some 40 families (including some not displaced to Beddawi camp) have moved to a Lebanese public school in the Beddawi area. This is one of four schools that the Lebanese government have set aside for the displaced to relieve the congestion inside Beddawi camp.

SAIDA AREA

Ein El Hilweh refugee camp: The situation remains tense but calm in Ein el-Hilweh. On 07 June, following a personal dispute a member from Jund al Sham shot in the air and tried to throw a grenade at the Lebanese Army checkpoint, but Osbat al Ansar members arrested him. A Palestinian security force has been deployed in Ein El Hilweh.

Mieh Mieh refugee camp: The situation is calm at Mieh Mieh. A total of 268 displaced families have arrived in Saida from Nahr el-Bared Camp.

CENTRAL LEBANON (Beirut and surroundings)

All UNRWA installations are operating normally. Some 414 displaced families from Nahr el-Bared Camp have arrived in Central Lebanon Area (Beirut).

However, the situation remains tense with an explosion last night killing one person and wounding three others in the industrial district of Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut during the night. The explosion set off a large fire in oxygen cylinders as black smoke billowed from the area. This is the fifth explosion since the start of the fighting in Nahr EL Bared camp on 20 May.