Access To Victims Difficult in Lebanon

ACF Struggles To Prevent Epidemics In Lebanon

A ceasefire is the only viable option for opening a humanitarian corridor to victims of the fighting who need assistance in southern Lebanon, says the international aid organization, Action Against Hunger.

“Approximately 700,000 Lebanese are displaced because of the fighting between Israel and the Shiite militia Hezbollah. The entire population is huddling in family homes, schools, and other buildings without adequate hygienic conditions.

"We're already recording cases of scabies, lice, and other diseases." says the general director of Action Against Hunger—Spain, Olivier Longué, who just returned from Lebanon. Action Against Hunger—Spain is one of five headquarters in the independent aid organization's non-governmental, non-religious international network.

These diseases are the first indicators that epidemics will soon emerge among the displaced. The need to prevent and cure infections is urgent, and the population's access to humanitarian aid is critical. "Only a ceasefire will guarantee access to the victims in southern Lebanon. As of now, the ongoing fighting makes it difficult and dangerous for our teams to bring assistance to those in need," says Longué.

Action Against Hunger is working to prevent epidemics through the distribution of hygienic kits for 1,000 displaced families in northern Beirut (Mount Lebanon) and in the Saida area. The organization is also establishing new systems to guarantee water supply and quality in centers where the displaced have taken refuge. The team's objective is to reach 50,000 people with programs to provide clean water and control water-borne epidemics. Action Against Hunger plans to install 100 water tanks, to chlorinate existing water sites, and add 100 shower extensions to existing toilet facilities. Action Against Hunger will also distribute cooking kits, jerricans for water, and mattresses to 20,000 relocated Lebanese.

Because one of four civilians in the area is displaced, during the first phase of its assistance the Action Against Hunger team will monitor the infant population with an objective to reach 30,000 children with infant formula and baby food.

"Evan if there were an immediate ceasefire, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people wouldn't have a place to return to because they lost everything during the attacks," says Longue. Once the fighting has ended, Action Against Hunger will continue to work with people returning home, providing assistance to rehabilitate agriculture-based livelihoods.