The aftermath of the Gaza war exacerbates the misery of Lebanon’s most vulnerable people — a global problem

The United Nations Children’s Fund calls for an immediate end to the war in Gaza as gunfights intensify between the armed group Hezbollah and Israeli forces. UNICEFwarned Air strikes are getting ‘deeper and deeper’ To date, 344 people have died in Lebanon, including eight young people.

Since Hezbollah fighters stepped up attacks targeting northern Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terrorist attack on southern Israel and subsequent Israeli terrorist attacks, the number of “deaths” out of about 90,000 has increased. “Including the large number of children injured and many injured, 30,000 children are now displaced,” said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder.

“Despite our best efforts, a permanent ceasefire is essential,” Elder insisted. “Without that ceasefire, Lebanon is at risk of all-out war. This is absolutely devastating for the 1.3 million children in this country.Of course, for the local children as well. ”

Inside Lebanon, U.N. officials reported that infrastructure at major water points was now destroyed and “debris remains in the surrounding area.” 100,000 people are currently denied access to clean drinking water” Approximately 23 health facilities housing 4,000 people were also closed as a result of the violence.

Entire families are forced to beg

In a sign of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon related to the crisis, the United Nations agency has confirmed that new food insecurity data has shown that attrition rates among children living in informal tent settlements for displaced people are increasing. It warned that the amount was found to be unexpectedly high.

“There were signs that the nutritional crisis was worsening. The number of children referred to our malnutrition program has tripled.Last 12 months” said Etty Higgins, UNICEF Deputy Director in Lebanon. “And these programs are currently being discontinued in some parts of the country due to a lack of humanitarian funding.”

As a result, the community is now “Send the whole family out to beg.They are forcing children as young as 4 to work in agriculture.…I spoke to a doctor recently and he said, A seven-year-old child comes to him with back problems due to the amount of garbage he carries every day.

A UNICEF official said children “can expect to earn perhaps $2 a day just by eating and putting food on the table.” So, unfortunately, these stories are becoming more and more frequent and more and more serious and tragic. ”

Refugees lost everything – again

Even before the recent hostilities, Lebanon was facing a severe economic crisis. COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection) Due to acute and chronic political instability, approximately half of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line.

Even more vulnerable are the one million Syrian refugees, nine out of 10 of whom live in “extreme poverty”, according to a UNICEF report on the crisis. Caught in the crossfire: How six months of conflict have affected Lebanese children.

Higgins explained that the majority of people currently displaced in the south of the country are Lebanese, and many people working in agriculture and olive cultivation have once again lost their livelihoods.

“We have been helping families get back on their feet since 2019, since the economic crisis began three to four years ago. They lost everything again. ”she said Journalists in Geneva via video link from Beirut.

“Many people working in olive plantations and other agricultural industries also lost their lives. Even if they were able to return tomorrow, their suffering would be long-term. Huge amount of unexploded ordnance It is now occurring in many of these agricultural areas and means it is very difficult for them to become self-sustaining. ”

collapse of funds

Amid rising needs and tensions between Lebanese and Syrian refugee communities, which could be alleviated by swift humanitarian action, UNICEF officials say many donor countries have “drastically cut back” on vital funding. ”, he warned.

“We are facing a massive problem. Massive collapse of humanitarian funding “I’ve been in Lebanon for the last three, four months,” Higgins said. “This has forced us to cut virtually all services, including simple efforts like providing safe drinking water and removing sewage from already overburdened areas. I did.”

Influx into Syria

When the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011, UNICEF officials continued, many Lebanese villages now reeling from hostilities hosted more than one million refugees “into their schools, clinics and communities.”

today, “We are seeing tensions really building up and impacting our children on a daily basis.” She continued, pointing to the high levels of trauma exhibited by Palestinian refugees currently living in “terrible conditions in the camps here,” while at the same time seeing what is happening to their Palestinian compatriots in Gaza. He said he also suffered from “secondary trauma.”

 

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