21 April 2017
Recent violence in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el Helweh in the city of Saida, South Lebanon, has once again resulted in deaths, injuries and insecurity for residents. More than a week of armed confrontations began on 7 April. As a result, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was forced to suspend work in the camp at its two health clinics and eight schools, serving over 6,000 children.
Nine people were killed, including two children, and at least 104 others were reportedly wounded. A number of families from the worst-affected areas of the camp were also displaced from their homes to neighbouring areas.
A preliminary assessment carried out in the past few days found that a total of 28 homes had been completely destroyed, with an additional 25 partially destroyed. This has left 57 families homeless. A further 63 homes sustained major damages, whilst 461 require minor repairs. An additional 141 shops sustained some form of damage, affecting livelihoods in the camp. Water and electrical networks have also been damaged.
Throughout the violence MAP’s partner, Developmental Action Without Borders (Nabaa), helped to support families in affected areas, distributing food and water, particularly amongst families with elderly members and individuals with disabilities.
Three of MAP’s partners - Nabaa, Association Najdeh and Tadamoun - are currently working on rubble removal and water, sanitation, hygiene and health awareness raising.
UNRWA’s health clinics reopened last Friday (17 April), as the security conditions finally began to stabilise and MAP’s team of community midwives resumed their vital work - visiting pregnant women, mothers and children among the displaced families, and providing much-needed comfort and care during a time of severe insecurity. MAP is also providing essential psychosocial support at UNRWA schools in the camp, following the violence.
“Armed clashes in Ein el Helweh camp are getting more frequent and deadlier. Decades of displacement and marginalisation are challenge enough for Palestinians in Lebanon without such violence, and more needs to be done by the international community to address the root causes deepening hopelessness and insecurity among these communities.”
MAP’s CEO, Aimee Shalan.
Violent clashes are a frequent occurrence in Ein el Helweh, and not only directly endanger the physical and psychological wellbeing of residents, but also prevent children from going to school and patients from accessing care at clinics. The camp is Lebanon’s largest, and suffers severe poverty, overcrowding and deprivation.
Health and education services for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, already stretched by UNRWA’s budgetary shortfall, have also been impacted by the arrival of a large number of Palestinians fleeing the war in Syria.
It is essential that MAP’s team and partners in Lebanon can continue to provide services to Palestinian refugees, including midwifery and home-visiting for new mothers, mental health and psychosocial support for child refugees from Syria, and therapy and remedial work for children with disabilities.