BEIRUT, Lebanon - July 21 - The continued heavy bombing in southern Lebanon, Beirut and other areas means that the situation there remains extremely dangerous and difficult for civilians. Large numbers of people are still leaving their homes and heading north or leaving the country altogether, either by sea or by road to neighbouring Syria. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent says that it expects another 15,000 refugees over the next couple of weeks.
The Lebanese Red Cross is one of the only organizations that is still able to evacuate the wounded and civilians under fire. Though it is operational in various places in southern Lebanon, its range of action remains very limited because of the situation. Rescue teams reported several security incidents involving ambulances and relief convoys over the past days.
The hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence are increasingly crowding schools, parks and other public areas that do not offer adequate shelter or hygiene and are short on emergency supplies.
Foreign nationals in Lebanon are still being evacuated by their respective governments, most of them by sea to Cyprus.
First humanitarian aid convoy arrives in Tyre
An initial ICRC convoy that left Beirut this morning, reached Tyre, in southern Lebanon, after 6 hours on the road. The 24 tonnes of food and other emergency items it was carrying will be distributed to 4,000 civilians in and around the city. The ICRC has a small office in Tyre.
The convoy is the first result of the ICRC's negotiations with the Israeli authorities for access to the conflict area and it will follow an agreed route designed to ensure its protection. The convoy is clearly marked with the red cross emblem.
Assessing the needs of Jebel Amel hospital and the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre
An ICRC surgeon is on board today's convoy to Tyre. His task will be to make contact with the medical teams at Jebel Amel hospital and to assess their needs. The hospital reports having treated around 85 per cent of those in need of medical care in the south of the country since the beginning of the latest hostilities.
The ICRC team will also contact the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre, whose medical teams have been working under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances to evacuate the wounded and sick in the area over the past week. The Society operates 4 medical facilities and 8 ambulances plus one mobile clinic in the Tyre region. On 20 July it evacuated 30 wounded and sick people, 18 of whom came from Mays Al Jabal (a village near the Blue Line) and 12 from Tyre.
ICRC logistics bases in Amman and Cyprus – ICRC ship being made ready
In cooperation with the Cyprus Red Cross Society, a mobile ICRC logistics unit has opened a new logistics base in Larnaca, Cyprus, with 5,700 square metres of warehousing space. The base is handling all goods to be shipped by the ICRC to Beirut or possibly other ports in Lebanon.
The ICRC has also chartered a ship that is due to start ferrying emergency aid from Cyprus to Lebanon early next week.
The organization is using its existing logistics base in Amman, Jordan, for all supplies sent to Beirut by road convoy. There is adequate warehousing space in Amman and an additional logistician has been added to the base. A medical logistician will also join the team to handle donations of medical supplies.
The ICRC is also seeking additional warehousing space in Beirut to expand on its current 400 square metres.