Friday, June 22, 2007

LEBANON: Challenges of returning refugees to destroyed camp

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

"BEIRUT, 22 June 2007 (IRIN) - Aid groups are preparing to return Palestinians to the ravaged Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, though it remains unclear whether a breakthrough in talks between the army and Fatah aI-Islam is imminent.

Even if fighting between the army and Sunni militant group Fatah al-Islam does end soon, tough challenges remain, aid agencies warn. Unexploded ordnance and rubble imperil the refugees’ way home. Many houses are ruined and further dangers and diseases lurk in the damaged water and sewage networks, they said......

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) is the only humanitarian organisation entering Nahr al-Bared, taking in food, water and medical supplies in ambulances and bringing out Palestinian civilians, despite an upsurge in fighting.

However, no ambulance was able to go in on 21 June, said Virginia De La Guardia of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “It is getting more and more dangerous.”

In the past month thousands have fled the camp which once held 40,000....."

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