Update No. 00/01 - ICRC activities in Lebanon
11-02-2000 Operational Update No 00/01
The military operations carried out by Lebanese armed groups in southern Lebanon, which caused casualties among the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) and SLA (South Lebanon Army) over the last two weeks, provoked strong retaliation at the beginning of this week in the form of air raids on three power plants in Beirut, northern Lebanon, and Bekaa as well as other air raids and shelling in southern Lebanon. This escalation caused some casualties among civilians.
The ICRC closely monitored the situation both along the front line and in the Israeli-occupied zone in southern Lebanon. Its delegates in the field evaluated the situation of the civilian population both in terms of security and humanitarian needs. They reassessed emergency stocks and prepared around a thousand family parcels, in particular for families in the front-line zone and for potential displaced persons. They also responded to Lebanese Red Cross requests for extra medical supplies for their mobile clinics, thus ensuring that they had the means to carry out emergency evacuations and administer first aid if necessary.
The ICRC delegation furthermore maintained contacts with all parties concerned, within the framework of its mandate, to ensure respect of international humanitarian law.
Over the years, the ICRC in Lebanon has built up its capac ity to react quickly in the event of emergencies and consolidated its network of interlocutors, through its regular assistance and protection activities. It enjoys unlimited access to all villages in southern Lebanon and along the front line. In cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross, it provides food and medical assistance to isolated and exposed villages in the Israeli-occupied zone and on the front line and provides ad hoc medical assistance to hospitals, dispensaries and first-aid posts along the demarcation line. It furthermore maintains the operational capacity of the Lebanese Red Cross mobile clinics and first-aid and ambulance services which operate in the conflict zone, through financial and material support, as well as training. This support is vital, as the National Society first-aiders are recognized as neutral by all sides, and are thus the only organization able to evacuate wounded from active conflict zones.
Recent ICRC activities
In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC conducted an operation in December 1999 to evacuate the mortal remains of five members of Lebanese armed groups from the field in the occupied zone in southern Lebanon and returned them to their families, during a general two-day cease-fire agreed upon by all parties.
In mid-January, it reunited 25 detainees, released from Khiam detention centre, with their families inside and outside the Israeli-occupied zone in southern Lebanon. Moreover, the ICRC repatriated two Lebanese detainees who were released from a prison in Israel after having completed their sentences.
ICRC mobile clinics continued to visit villages along the front line, giving consu ltations and providing medicines to the population. A total of 768 consultations were given in the last three months of 1999.
The ICRC provided 5 hospitals and 11 emergency centres and dispensaries along the front line with medical assistance, and provided medicines and dressing material to health care facilities in Palestinian camps.