BEIRUT, Lebanon - August 14 - CARE began distributing relief supplies in three Beirut suburbs today. The distribution centered around the villages of Mansourieh, Mkhallis and Beit Meri in the mountains just east of Beirut, where internally displaced Lebanese civilians have sought refuge from the fighting in southern Lebanon.
CARE provided aid to the families who are now temporarily living in makeshift shelters, including a large, windowless room under a public parking garage. The room, about 2500 square feet, with only one toilet and no natural light, houses more than 100 people. Another building visited by CARE is an abandoned chocolate factory which now houses more than 100 people. Its windows have no glass. A few electric fans provide slight relief from the stifling heat. The building has only one bathroom for more than a hundred people. Many of the people living in the shelters visited by CARE show signs of intense anxiety. The psychological impact of the massive destruction resulting from the conflict is affecting adults as well as children.
"What we are seeing here is only the tip of the iceberg," says CARE's emergency assessment team leader, Megan Chisholm. "We expect to see more casualties, bad living conditions and victims of this war as soon as we are able to access the whole of Lebanon."
CARE provided the refugees with sets of kitchen and household supplies, children's clothing and hygiene kits, including shampoo and detergent. Each kitchen kit consists of a cooking pot, bowls, knives and forks for a family of up to five. The CARE team also provided a number of portable butane gas stoves, which are particularly important because fuel shortages have made it increasingly difficult to cook hot meals. Household kits included 5-gallon plastic water containers, as well as mops, brooms and detergent for household cleaning.
The supplies were purchased in local markets to provide added support to the local economy. A major concern is that the summer months are normally the time when business is booming, and Lebanese try to earn as much money as possible to carry them through the slower winter months. The economic slowdown means that many heads of households are likely to need economic and livelihood support months from now when the local economy normally slows down considerably.
CARE has worked in the Middle East since 1948, when we opened our first office in Israel. Today, we’re active in the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and now Lebanon, focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly women and children. In Israel, humanitarian needs from the current crisis are already being met, and CARE’s assistance there is unnecessary at this time.