International Federation launches appeal to help Red Crescent Societies assist evacuees from Lebanon

Published: 21 July 2006

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching a preliminary appeal for 1.3 million Swiss francs (euro 846,000/1 million US$) to support the assistance programmes set up by National Red Crescent Societies for people fleeing hostilities in Lebanon. The funds will be used initially to assist some 50,000 people over the next three months and to replenish stocks of emergency items distributed to the thousands of evacuees and other affected populations, such as host families.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and expect to revise the appeal, as we receive more detailed results of ongoing assessments,” notes Iain Logan, of the Federation’s Middle East North Africa Department. “It is imperative that people fleeing the hostilities should have access to basic necessities, health care and safe haven.”

Latest reports indicate more than 330 people have died, with thousands wounded or injured and more than 400,000 people displaced, in Lebanon and in surrounding countries, by the fighting. As the security situation continues to deteriorate, tens of thousands of people are streaming out of Lebanon, many of them to Syria, prompting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) to set up a special reception operation.

The SARCS has mobilized more than 100 volunteers who are working around the clock, assisting thousands of evacuees and providing water, food, ambulance and first aid services to those who need it. They are helping transport people to temporary shelter locations and registering beneficiaries. Four operational centres have been set up in cities near major border crossing points from Lebanon to Syria (two in Damascus, Homs and Tartous). They are also helping them contact relatives.

To date, the SARCS has assisted some 3,000 people. More than 1,000 families have been accommodated in host families’ homes, schools, dormitories and monasteries in Damascus alone. The SARCS and other charities are supplying beds, blankets and pillows. More than 8,000 hot meals are provided to evacuees every day. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in the region and around the world, are on alert.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing overall leadership in and around the Lebanon crisis. On 19 July, the ICRC launched a preliminary emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs, of which an important part will support the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC). The LRC remains the primary provider of emergency medical assistance in Lebanon.