Overview of ICRC activities in Lebanon since 1967

14 April 2015

The ICRC has been present in Lebanon since 1967 providing assistance and protection to civilians affected by armed conflict, in close cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross Society and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

1967

  • Opening of an ICRC delegation in Beirut.
  • Visits to prisoners of war interned in Lebanon start shortly after the end of the Six-Day War.
  • August 9: Exchange of 33 Lebanese civilians for one Israeli prisoner of war and four Israeli civilians.

1969

  • End of October: Seven wounded Palestinians visited in South Lebanon. In Beirut, the ICRC visits two Lebanese soldiers and two wounded Palestinians, as well as 34 Palestinian detainees incarcerated in Lebanon. The ICRC repatriates several people who inadvertently crossed the border between Lebanon and Israel.

1973

  • May 3: Evacuation of people with major injuries during a truce obtained by the ICRC. These operations are repeated in the following days.

 1975

  • At the very onset of the Lebanese war, the ICRC – which had already been present in the country since 1967 – responds by deploying a large humanitarian operation involving relief supplies, health-care services and restoring family links.

1976

  • With more people affected by the fighting, the ICRC opens offices in Jounieh, Tripoli and Baalbeck. The organization also sets up a field hospital in the southern suburbs of Beirut, although it later closes on 11 December.
  • The ICRC visits 120 prisoners detained by ten different parties in different locations scattered around the country. Most of them are later freed under the auspices of the ICRC.

1977–1981

  • In 1977, the ICRC opens an office in Tyr. While reducing its activities throughout the country, it increases its response in the south.The organization continues to protect civilians from hostilities and their consequences, to visit detainees and to clarify the fate of missing persons.In 1981, the ICRC provides relief in Zahle, Beirut and the south of the country, and restores its medical activities.

1982

  • At the onset of the Israeli invasion, the ICRC launches a formal call to remind the parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law.During the first days of the invasion, the ICRC opens a medical centre in its premises to assist around 10,000 inhabitants in Tyr who seek refuge and help.The organization also starts visiting prisoners in the Ansar camp in the south of Lebanon.

SABRA AND SHATILA:

  • Following the massacre in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the ICRC makes an appeal to the international community and starts providing medical assistance and protection as soon as it is able to access the camps on 18 September.

1983–1984

  • The ICRC starts visiting around 700 000 detainees across the country. It also launches an appeal calling for an immediate ceasefire and reminds the belligerents of their obligations to respect the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems and hospitals, and the necessity to respect the civilian population.The organization evacuates a large number of civilians from Chouf to Beirut and Saida.

ANSAR CAMP

  • The ICRC provides aid to freed Ansar camp detainees. During the year, it facilitates the exchange of over one million Red Cross messages that are shared between detainees and their families.

1985

  • As the war rages on and the security situation worsens, ICRC delegates operate in the most sensitive areas, visiting over 480 people detained by several factions and providing medical and emergency assistance to 80,000 civilians affected by the fighting in the Saida-Gezzine area, and to over 90,000 people in Beirut.The ICRC also releases statements on the abuse of the Red Cross emblem and condemning hideous acts of mutilation and killing.

1986

  • Two Lebanese Red Cross first aiders are killed and eight are injured during the evacuation of the wounded. The worsening security situation hinders the delivery of humanitarian aid to those who remain blocked and isolated due to fighting between the different factions.

1988

  • An ICRC delegate is kidnapped but liberated a month later. This however prompts the organization to suspend its activities in Lebanon due to the security situation. Nevertheless, the volume of the aid provided to the population affected by the conflict surpasses that of previous years.

1989

  • The ICRC gradually resumes its activities in Lebanon. In 2 October, more ICRC delegates are kidnapped in Saida.

1990

  • Although the two kidnapped delegates are released, the ICRC reduces the number of its expatriate staff. However, it maintains its presence in Lebanon and remains active in protection and detention-related activities, as well as health care, relief and clarifying the fate of missing persons and restoring family links.

1992

  • Following the end of the civil war, the ICRC focuses mainly on the south of the country, the Bekaa valley and areas along the green line between the Israeli occupied territory and the rest of the country.

1993

  • Following Israel's 'rendering justice' operation in south Lebanon, around 300,000 civilians are forced to flee from their homes, with dozens killed and hundreds wounded. Many houses are fully or partially destroyed. The ICRC provides emergency relief and medical supplies.

1995

  • The ICRC acts as a neutral intermediary in negotiating truces to be able to remove dead bodies, repair damaged water supply systems and distribute assistance to those in need.For the first time since the opening of the major Israeli detention centres, the ICRC organizes family visits, as well as registering newly detained people.

1996–1999

  • During and after Israel's 'grapes of wrath' operation, the ICRC provides assistance and protection to civilians in the south of the country where fighting is taking place, and to internally displaced people who seek refuge in public places in Saida, Beirut, the Chouf Mountains and the Bekaa valley.The ICRC continues to act as a neutral intermediary and facilitates and monitors the simultaneous release of 62 prisoners as well as the repatriation of the 125 dead bodies in the hands of Israel, Hezbollah and the South Liberation Army.

2000

  • Following the withdrawal of Israel from the south of Lebanon and the release of the detainees held in the Khiam detention centre, the ICRC facilitates the safe return of all former detainees to their families.After the withdrawal of the Israeli forces, landmines left behind and threatening the civilian population become a major concern for the ICRC.

2002–2005

  • The ICRC monitors the situation of civilians in the zone formerly occupied by Israel, paying particular attention to those who fled to Israel but later returned. It seeks to re-establish and maintain links between family members separated by the conflict.It also seeks to gain authorization to visit detainees held by the Lebanese authorities and Israeli nationals captured by Hezbollah.

2006

  • In cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross, the ICRC launches a large-scale operation to respond to humanitarian needs arising from the conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

2007

  • Following the hostilities erupting in the Nahr Al Bared Palestinian camp, the ICRC, together with the Lebanese Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent, provides emergency assistance to those affected. Two Lebanese Red Cross workers are killed during the fighting.In the south of the country, the ICRC rehabilitates water networks and infrastructure destroyed by the 2006 Lebanon-Israel conflict, benefiting 700,000 people.

2008

  • The ICRC helps hospitals cope with the influx of wounded persons as a result of the internal clashes in May. It also continues to carry out its water projects in different locations, such as Kfar Melki, benefiting 30,000 people.In July, the ICRC facilitates the hand-over of 197 coffins with human remains from Israel to Hezbollah and two coffins with human remains from Hezbollah to the Israeli authorities.Following clashes between Jabal Mohsen and Bab Al Tabbaneh in Tripoli, the ICRC calls on all those involved to facilitate the evacuation of all the wounded.

2009–2011

  • Following the signing of an agreement with the Lebanese authorities, the ICRC visits inmates in Lebanese detention facilities to assess their treatment and living conditions.The organization continues to carry out water supply projects benefiting 260,000 people, including inmates in Roumieh central prison.

2012

  • The ICRC launches the Anti Disappearance Data collection programme[TD1] to clarify the fate of missing persons. It opens a hotline for families of people who went missing during various armed conflicts in Lebanon and encourages the Lebanese authorities to establish a national commission on the missing.Following the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, the ICRC provides treatment to the war wounded arriving in Lebanon, at the same time offering war surgery training for dozens of health workers.The organization supports the Lebanese Red Cross in the evacuation of 1,600 wounded people from Syria to Lebanese hospitals, finances a temporary Lebanese Red Cross emergency facility in Ras Baalback, provides medical supplies for ten facilities treating war-wounded patients from Syria, and offers post-operative and rehabilitation care in various medical centres.

2013

  • The ICRC, working in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross, continues to assist hundreds of weapon-wounded people who cross the border from Syria into Lebanon for medical treatment. It also lends support to the Lebanese Red Cross blood bank and medical facilities in the Bekaa Valley.Due to the influx of refugees from Syria, the ICRC, in cooperation with local authorities in areas hosting Syrian refugees, seeks to alleviate pressure on water infrastructure and meet increasing demand for water. Some 230,000 people including Syrian refugees and their Lebanese hosts benefit from the organization's water projects in Tripoli, Koura and Batroun in the north, as well as Hermel, Qaa and Sultan Yaakoub in the Bekaa.The ICRC visits 6,200 detainees in some 30 places of detention throughout the country, including those detained for security reasons due to the spill-over from the Syrian conflict. It also approaches the Lebanese authorities on behalf of foreign detainees to make sure that the principle of non-refoulement is respected.

2014

  • With Lebanon hosting the largest number of Syrians and Palestinians to have fled from Syria because of the fighting (estimated at 1,250,000 people), the ICRC strengthens its presence in the north and south of the country as well as in the Bekaa Valley, in particular to relieve pressures on the host population and infrastructure.Seeking to increase the capacity to provide care for the war wounded, the ICRC establishes a war traumatology and training centre in Tripoli.Following the fighting in Tripoli, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes to seek shelter in safe areas, the ICRC distributes aid to 5,600 people affected by the violence.

2015

  • In the aftermath of the clashes in Tripoli, the ICRC helps to rehabilitate damaged buildings and water and sewage facilities. To help the most vulnerable to survive the winter, the organization opens two kitchens in Jabal Mohsen and Bab Al Tabbaneh, providing hot meals on a daily basis for the most needy.The ICRC also provides hospitals in the Bekaa with generators to enable them to remain operational during the harsh winter months.