Fleeing home
Photo: Reuters
Leaving south
Photo: Reuters
Photo: AP
Leaving with white flag
Photo: AP
Half a million Lebanese become refugees
Grave reports on situation of Lebanese population, which is 'on verge of humanitarian crisis.' Government in Beirut, UN agencies point finger at Israel
Fighting in Lebanon claims heavy price among civilians. About half a million Lebanese have turned into refugees, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported. In addition, dozens of civilians have been killed in Israel Air Force strikes.


On the seventh day of the fighting in Lebanon, and after hundreds of strikes, the UN's agency in Beirut defined the situation as "catastrophic" and reported that about half a million of Lebanon's citizens have abandoned their homes and are considered refugees.


UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said on Monday that "it is already a 'protection of civilians crisis'. We hear and see a population which feels trapped as they are subject to indiscriminate attacks."


He called for an immediate cease-fire from both sides. He said there were reports of tens or hundreds of thousands of displaced people. While many were sheltering in schools, thousands more were trying to escape to neighbouring Syria but were stopped by blocked or destroyed roads.

Photo: AP


Egeland said there were also fears about the effects of energy cuts and the destruction of infrastructure on water, sewage and health. Hospitals were working but fuel was a problem and ambulances were unable to reach people in need of life-saving treatment.


Egeland said it was "heartbreaking" that Lebanon's infrastructure was being destroyed just as reconstruction work had ended after years of civil war.


"They seem to be going full speed towards the abyss. It seems political and military leaders have a mandate for more revenge," he added.


'Israel waging war'


Lebanese Social Affair Minister Nayla Moawad said on Tuesday that Israel was trying to bring famine to Lebanon by its offensive and blockade which is isolating the country from the outside world and destroying its infrastructure.


"Israel is waging war to inflict famine in Lebanon. It is a disastrous situation," she told AFP.


"They have cut off the country from the outside world. They have bombed the airport and the ports, they have imposed a sea blockade and continue to bombard the roads" leading to the borders, she said.


Lebanese citizens began abandoning their homes over the weekend in order to escape the bombardments. They equipped themselves with food and petrol. The Lebanese government provided gathering spots for families in need of help in finding a shelter. Most of the families came from poor villages in south Lebanon, Hizbullah's stronghold, which was the place which suffered the most from the IDF fire.


Many villagers feared the trip to the north after 23 people, including women and children, were killed over the weekend in an IDF strike on a car convoy.


The Red Cross organization transferred emergency aid worth 200,000 Euro (USD 250,000) to Lebanese residents hurt in IDF shellings. The organization called on the sides involved in the conflict to abide by the international law and the Geneva Convention.


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