The ICRC in Lebanon
The ICRC has been present in Lebanon since 1967, where it continues to address the humanitarian problems arising from the internal and international conflicts of the last 45 years. It visits people deprived of their liberty, helps restore contact between separated family members, works with the families of missing persons to have their needs addressed, and helps local partners prepare for emergencies. Alongside other humanitarian organizations, the ICRC has been helping deal with the influx of refugees arriving in Lebanon from Syria.
When the first Syrian refugees started arriving in Lebanon more than a year ago, the ICRC stepped in to support the Lebanese Red Cross emergency medical services by facilitating the transfer of wounded Syrians to hospitals in northern Lebanon. It covered the cost of medical care for the most critical cases in hospitals in the Bekaa region of eastern Lebanon, ran two seminars for Lebanese doctors on treating war wounds, distributed food and other supplies to Syrian refugees in Bekaa, and made representations to the authorities regarding their duty to abide by the principle of non-refoulement.
Hundreds of families remain without news of their loved ones, who went missing in the armed conflict that ravaged Lebanon from 1975. As part of its humanitarian mandate, the ICRC has been working with these families for years and remains committed to ensuring that their needs and rights are acknowledged and addressed. In 2012, the ICRC conducted a study to identify the needs of families whose relatives went missing during armed conflict in Lebanon from 1975 onwards.
In April 2012, at the families' request, the ICRC started gathering detailed information about missing people. The idea is that, in the future, this data will be used to provide these families with the answers they seek about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.
As they do in more than 80 countries around the world, ICRC staff in Lebanon visit people deprived of their liberty in order to monitor their treatment and living conditions. Findings and recommendations are shared only with the authorities concerned, with a view to securing improvements where necessary. The ICRC focuses in particular on people detained in connection with armed conflict or national security. ICRC delegates enable people deprived of their liberty to stay in touch with their families by exchanging Red Cross messages and passing on greetings by telephone.
The ICRC also helps the authorities improve health-care provision for inmates and has now completed a project to renovate the water system in Roumieh prison – the country's largest detention facility.
In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC facilitates the repatriation of Lebanese people living in Israel who wish to return to Lebanon and would otherwise be unable to do so, as well as the repatriation of the mortal remains of Lebanese nationals for burial at home.
The ICRC maintains its financial and technical support to the Lebanese Red Cross with the purpose of developing the National Society's emergency services. More recently, it initiated a joint operation with the Lebanese Red Cross for evacuating and treating wounded Syrians crossing into Lebanon.
As part of its efforts to promote compliance with international humanitarian law, the ICRC maintains a constant dialogue with Lebanon's civil and military authorities, Palestinian factions, prominent civil society figures and United Nations forces.