Friday, August 18, 2006

Israeli offensive destroyed up to 30,000 homes

Agence France Presse
18 August 2006

HELSINKI, Aug 18 2006-- Between 15,000 and 30,000 homes
were destroyed during Israel's month-long offensive in
Lebanon, the aid minister of Finland, which holds the
current EU presidency, said Friday.

"The numbers on how many houses or house units were
destroyed are very rough estimates. Numbers we heard are
something between 15,000 and 30,000 house units," Paula
Lehtomaeki said following a four-day visit to Lebanon
accompanied by the EU's commissioner for development and
humanitarian aid Louis Michel.

"That makes at least 100,000 people without a home and
decent shelter. Winter is not so far away, we only have a
couple of months to provide the basic shelter for these
people," she told a news conference.

Aid is urgently needed, she said.

"The ceasefire that began on Monday morning, hours before
we arrived in Beirut, has improved the possibility to meet
the humanitarian needs, and it has improved the
possibilities to have humanitarian access to victimes in

"But it has also changed the internal situation in Lebanon
in the way that people who had escaped from their home
areas because of the bombings in the beginning of the
conflict started immediately on Monday to return back to
their homes, and this movement has been much broader and
much faster than anybody could have expected."

A ceasefire took effect in Lebanon on Monday, following a
UN resolution which paves the way for the deployment of
the international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

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