Higher Relief Commission Daily Situation Report No. 42, 07 Sep 2006 (Lebanon)
Lebanon under siege www.lebanonundersiege.gov.lb offers up-to-date information on relief efforts and diplomatic initiatives. The site lists locations of shelter and Aid distribution, along with a tally of damage, casualties and official statements. Significantly, the site is available in three languages. This site is the official Lebanese government source of information.
Israel said Wednesday it would lift eight-week-old air and sea blockade of Lebanon at 15 GMT Thursday. Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi confirmed the move, saying "Lebanon's stead-fast position" and "pressures" brought to bear on Israel had tipped the decision for the blockade, in force since July 13, to be lifted from Thursday evening. Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said earlier on Wednesday his country would break the blockade by force if it is not lifted in 48 hours.
In a sign the end of the embargo was imminent, British Air ways said it was resuming direct flights to Beirut after the British Government had given assurances it would be safe to do so. Lebanon's Middle East Airlines and Royal Jordanian began flying regularly into the capital last month, but have complied with Israel's insistence that all such flights go via Amman. Qatar Airways resumed direct flights to Beirut on Monday. Requests had also been filed from Air France and Germany's Lufthansa to resume flights to Lebanon.
Four Lebanese security officers killed by two roadside bombs were buried on Wednesday. Lebanese policemen stand next to the coffins, draped in the Lebanese flag, of the four aids and bodyguards of police Lieutenant Samir Shehade during a military farewell ceremony in the southern city of Sidon. The dead were killed when a remote-controlled roadside bomb exploded as Shehade's two-vehicle convoy was driving through the village of Rmaile, near Sidon, on Tuesday. Shehade, a top police intelligence officer who had been investigating the killing of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, remain in stable condition.
"Those who committed these severe violations of international humanitarian law must be punished and the victims of these doing should be able to get compensation", the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform (EMNGP), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Right Network (EMHRN) delegation said. The delegation visited Lebanon from 11 to 17 August 2006, with the objectives of demonstrating its solidarity with Lebanese civil society and evaluates the situation, said. "Recalling that attacks against civilian population and international destruction of civil infrastructure constitute, for all the parties involved in this conflict, a striking violation of humanitarian international law, our organizations estimate imperative an international inquiry commission examines the fact and determines the incurred responsibilities. Those who committed these sever violations of international humanitarian law must be punished and the victims of these doings should be able to get compensation". "The international community should find the necessary means for reconstructing Lebanon, beyond the evident solidarity, it is a duty toward Lebanese people who endured for a month the violations of its most elementary rights", the delegation said.
Two Lebanese army explosive experts were killed and another seriously wounded Wednesday trying to defuse an unexploded artillery shell leftover from the war in southern Lebanon, security official said.
UNDP Mine Action report that "During two weeks period, casualties caused by unexploded bombs equaled the total number of victims from 2003 to 2005, this is an alarming indicator showing the gravity of the situation affecting the Lebanese population. It should be noted also that currently the south is not completely accessible to Lebanese citizens as it was in May 2000 after the withdrawal of Israeli troops and liberation of most south Lebanon territory: up to date, land is not easily reachable by the population due to current bad roads and bridges conditions. Comparing the second half of year 2000 figures where most of mines and UXO accidents happened; it is quite noticeable that current weekly rate (30.5 cases) of accidents is exceeding 7 times the bi-quarterly (26 weeks period: 102 cases) rate of year 2000, UNDP said.
According to the United Nations for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 100,000 unexploded cluster bombs remain scattered throughout south Lebanon. Most of them were dropped during the last 72 hours of the conflict, when a cessation had already been called for by the UN Security Council.
The Israeli Blockade is preventing the wide scale intervention needed to clean a massive oil slick caused by the Jewish state's bombardment of Jyee power station, Greenpeace said Monday. "you have to be able to over fly Lebanese waters to pinpoint surface slicks and fuel oil deposits deeper down, as well as intervention by skimmers (cleaning boats)-and that is not possible while the blockade continues, said Green peace spokesman Omar al-Naim. " The more time that passes, the more the slicks are dispersed by the wind and the currents", he added. Naim said that unless the slicks are dealt with while they are still at the sea, "the coastline will be inevitably be soiled again, even if it has been cleaned up". According to Rick Steiner, an American expert sent to the region by the World Conservation Union at the request of the Lebanese non-governmental group Green line, "the longer pollution lasts the more dangerous it becomes".
His Majesty Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abbel-Aziz is expected to cover Lebanese students' registration fees in all public schools for this year, according to Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon Abdel-Aziz Khoja. The Saudi ambassador made the announcement on Monday following a meeting with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Education Minister Khaled Qabani. Lebanese information Minister Ghazi Aridi, who also attended the meeting said, "This is a new paternal initiative from a generous and wise leader, expressing his love for Lebanon and its people."
The Jordanian government has decided to exempt Lebanese businesses of taxes and tariffs in a bid to help the country get back on its feet after a month-long Israeli offensive, official said. The government decided on a three-month freeze on customs tariffs paid by Lebanese merchant trucks entering and leaving Jordan, state-run Petra news agency reported. "The decisions were in line with instruction by King Abdullah II to help the Lebanese people "to overcome the difficult conditions they are facing", Government spokesman Nasser Jawdeh said.
At night, many Lebanese southern villages plunge into darkness because there is no electricity. Running water and fixed telephone lines are also out. Public utility workers have begun repairing miles of severed power and water distribution network but they are short on manpower, supplies and spare parts because of Israel's air and sea blockade. Government surveyors and contractors have begun officially assessing the damage, spraying-painting numerals across what's left of ruined homes and noting others that were reduced to craters up to 30 feet deep. " nothing was left untouched" Siddiqine Mayor Mohammad Azzimi said, sitting behind a plastic table that substitutes for his desk in a building with shattered windows-his new office." I barely recognized this town when I came back", he said.
The Higher Relief Commission humanitarian aids continued to War affected areas, total of 19,215 food baskets were delivered to Beirut's southern Suburbs and Bekaa valley Wednesday. Total of 543,575 Food Baskets, 583,988 Hot Meals, 26,574 Children Baskets, 136,955 Blankets, 141, 982 Mattresses and 7,195 Cleaning Kits have been distributed by the higher relief commission up to date.
At least 100 of Lebanon's hospitals and clinics were knocked out by the war and still face huge shortages of water and fuel, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. A joint assessment by the WHO and the Lebanese health authorities in the areas most affected by the fighting indicated that 26% of more than 400 examined healthcare centers, hospitals and dispensaries are not operating because they are either damaged, inaccessible or they lack qualified health workers, the WHO said in a statement. WHO said 12 healthcare buildings were destroyed and 38 severely damaged.
Dairy farmers in the Baalbek area report that because they were unable to feed or milk their cows during the conflict, many cows have stopped producing milk, and will not resume until after they become pregnant and give birth again. In the interim, dairy farmers continue to invest in feeding and caring for their herd, with no resulting income for many months, Mercy Corps Reported.
Von: 8.9.06, ReliefWeb