17 August 2006

Humanitarian Factsheet on Lebanon

NEW YORK, 16 August (UN Headquarters) -- The following has been prepared by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

Population Returns

-- To date, the Lebanese Higher Relief Council (HRC) reports that 1,152 Lebanese have been killed and some 3,700 wounded.  The HRC continues to revise its casualty figures upward as victims' bodies are recovered from the rubble.

-- An estimated 200,000 Lebanese have returned to their home areas in the past three days, according to the HRC, leaving the estimated number of internally displaced persons in Lebanon currently at just over 700,000.

-- The HRC also reports that more than 40 per cent of people previously sheltering in schools and other public centres have left for their home areas.

-- An estimated 60,000 Lebanese are believed to have spontaneously returned from Syria in the last three days, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

-- However, the HRC estimates that some 15,000 housing units have been destroyed in Lebanon.

-- An initial assessment by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) indicates extensive damage to civilian housing in southern Lebanon:  in the village of Tayyabah, 80 per cent of homes have been destroyed; 50 per cent in Markaba and Qantarah, and 30 per cent in Mays al Jabal.

-- An inter-agency assessment mission to the southern suburbs of Beirut also observed extensive destruction, although the full extent is still being assessed.  2,500 housing units have reportedly been destroyed in Haret Hreik and a further 5,000 damaged.  Municipal officials report that many displaced people have not yet returned from other parts of the city and country.

-- UNHCR is assisting Lebanese returnees from Syria and returning internally displaced persons with basic relief packages containing food, water, and shelter supplies.  UNHCR teams are stationed at four main border crossings from Syria to Lebanon, as well as at major points along return routes within Lebanon.

-- During the conflict, UNIFIL estimated that between 200 and 300 bombs and missiles per day were dropped on areas adjacent to the Blue Line and a similar amount across other areas of southern Lebanon.  Standard estimates are then, on average, 10 per cent of such ordnance is likely to have failed as designed and remain on the ground as unexploded ordnance.  Additional hazards are posed by ground- and naval-launched artillery rounds (respectively an estimated 2,000 and 100 to 200 per day).

Humanitarian Activities

-- Two humanitarian convoys departed Beirut this morning:  the first -- a 9-truck convoy carrying supplies for UNHCR and the non-governmental organization, Première Urgence -- is headed to Tyre; the second, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) convoy, is headed to Wavel Camp in Baalbek carrying food for some 5,000 residents.

-- The United Nations-chartered ship Anamcara left Beirut for Tyre this morning, carrying food, medical supplies, drinking water and fuel.  Nineteen trucks -- 12 for the World Food Programme (WFP), two for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), two carrying fuel for WFP and the World Health Organization -- are on board.  Part of the fuel will be used to supply hospitals, as well as to support basic humanitarian needs such as the aid convoys.

-- A UNHCR-chartered C-130 plane arrived in Beirut from Amman today carrying tents, mattresses and other relief supplies.  A second C-130 was expected to arrive this afternoon.  Four UNHCR cargo flights arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus, yesterday; the supplies will be shipped to Beirut and Tyre.

-- The United Nations Area Coordinator in Tyre has indicated that power might be restored for the city tonight, while Saida (Sidon) continues to have reduced electricity service.  Israel Defense Forces air-strikes on the night of 12 to 13 August damaged power plants in both cities.

-- UNIFIL and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) were expected to begin a systematic assessment of roads and bridges in the area of Tyre today and an inter-agency assessment of roads and logistics was to proceed to Zahle and Baalbek.  Urgent work continues on repairs to key infrastructure.

Lebanon Flash Appeal

-- To date, some $81.2 million has been committed to the $165 million Flash Appeal for Lebanon, or 49 per cent of requirements; an additional $8.5 million in pledges have also been recorded.

-- WFP today warned that lack of funds for the Lebanon Flash Appeal could sharply reduce aid deliveries to the country.

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570.  OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org  or www.reliefweb.int .

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