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Thousands of Lebanese Unable to Return to Homes

Thousands of Lebanese Still Unable to Return to Their Homes, Warns UN Refugee Agency

New York, Sep 5 2006 6:00PM

Thousands of Lebanese are still unable to return to their homes more than three weeks after the cessation of hostilities began because they have lost their livelihoods, the United Nations refugee agency said today, warning that many are also in need of long-term medical assistance.

“There are thousands of Lebanese who have not been able to return to their homes – in areas around Beirut there are an estimated 12,000 displaced who have not returned after the war,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

“In Beirut itself, the charity Caritas estimates there are 35,000. These people have lost their source of income. Older people and those with disabilities have chronic medical needs.”

He said UNHCR’s distribution of emergency aid was continuing smoothly but added that children need extra help due to the conflict, both in terms of resuming their education and also with counselling because of their war experiences.

“As part of that problem, UNHCR has helped a Lebanese non-governmental organization (NGO) the Development for People and Nature Association to set up a summer camp they’re running for children in the town of Jezzine.” Over 100 children up to the age of 14 from various villages in the area have activities that include peace education, plays and handicrafts.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said recently that it is working to ensure hundreds of thousands of pupils receive notebooks and other supplies before classes resume next month. The Fund is also continuing its other humanitarian efforts in Lebanon, including helping to deal with the chronic shortage of clean water in the south, a UN spokesman said today.

“UNICEF reports that it is working with the Lebanese authorities to try to rehabilitate the water system that used to serve up to 750,000 people in the south. UNICEF is also fixing labels to the bottled water it is distributing, to better inform families and children about the threat of unexploded ordnance,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

There are now 10 UN teams operating in Lebanon trying to deal with the masses of unexploded ordnance that litter the countryside and more will be arriving soon, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. So far, they have identified 434 cluster bomb strike locations and destroyed 112 unexploded bombs and almost 14,000 cluster sub-munitions.


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