Lebanon: overview of ICRC activities
21-04-2009 Operational Update
In Lebanon, the ICRC focuses on visiting detainees, restoring family links and helping preserve or restore acceptable living conditions for civilians, the sick and the wounded.
The ICRC seeks to provide protection by ensuring respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). It endeavours to minimize the dangers to which people are exposed, prevent or put a stop to violations committed against them, and make their voices heard.
Since March 2007, the ICRC has the agreement of the Lebanese authorities to visit detainees in Lebanon to monitor their living conditions, the manner in which they are treated and respect for their fundamental judicial guarantees. The ICRC puts a special emphasis on:
monitoring the treatment of people arrested in connection with armed conflicts or other forms of armed violence;
allowing foreign detainees to maintain contact with their families through the exchange of Red Cross messages;
providing assistance to prisons when necessary, based on the needs of detainees.
The organization helps restore family links by
enabling people in Lebanon to maintain contact with fam ily members in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories through Red Cross messages;
repatriating Lebanese nationals released from prison in Israel, or living in that country, but who wish to return home;
supporting Lebanese or Palestinian families who want to repatriate the remains of relatives who died in Israel;
offering technical support to the Lebanese authorities in resolving the issue of people missing in relation to the civil war and its aftermath; extending support to committees of families of the missing.
In its prevention programmes, the organization pays particular attention to people and groups who have a hand in armed conflict or who can facilitate ICRC action, such as: the armed forces, security and police forces, other weapon bearers; decision-makers and opinion leaders at the local and international levels; and the youth, students and their teachers.
The Lebanese armed and internal security forces regularly attend sessions on international humanitarian law. With ICRC support, instructors at military training institutes have specialized in IHL training. The ICRC also puts special emphasis on:
raising awareness of basic IHL rules, and information about the ICRC mandate among members of different armed groups, such as those in Palestinian refugee camps
participating in monthly induction courses for newly arrived personnel of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon;
organizing seminars with the national authorities aimed at raising awareness of IHL and incorporating its provisions into national legislation;
raising awareness of IHL among the media, universities, non-governmental organizations and religious groups.
The ICRC works with national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide to ensure a concerted, rational and rapid humanitarian response to the needs of the victims of armed conflict or any other situation of internal violence.
In Lebanon, the ICRC provides extensive support to its traditional partners, the Lebanese Red Cross and the Palestine Red Crescent Societies. The goal is to improve their emergency response and organizational capacity, and to meet the needs of affected populations more effectively.
The ICRC has supported the Lebanese Red Cross in developing a five-year strategy for its emergency medical service to strengthen its emergency-response capacity, particularly in terms of medical evacuations. For the emergency medical service, the ICRC provides technical advice and financial support in training, infrastructure, vehicle fleet management, medical equipment, information technology and human resources. The ICRC also supports the Lebanese Red Cross Society’s youth department in fostering awareness of humanitarian values and principles throughout the country. Young volunteers from the Lebanese Red Cross and the Palestine Red Crescent are trained to carry out relief activities if need be.
ICRC assistance work focuses on health, economic security and water and sanitation. It seeks to preserve or restore acceptable living conditions for civilians, the sick and wounded, both military and civilian. In Le banon, the ICRC provides the following humanitarian assistance:
The ICRC supports the five hospitals run by the Palestine Red Crescent by providing them with training, teaching materials, medical materials and hospital equipment.
The ICRC also organizes seminars on war surgery for surgeons working in Lebanese and Palestinian hospitals. It maintains a supply of medical and surgical stocks to enable hospitals and emergency medical services to treat up to 1,500 casualties in the event of renewed armed conflict or other situations of armed violence.
The ICRC supports the local water authorities in rehabilitating water-supply facilities that are rundown or damaged as a result of conflict. It also runs projects to improve water supply to vulnerable populations in Lebanon, concentrating on marginalized areas in the south, north and the Bekaa valley. Since 2006, over 115 water projects have been carried out in Lebanon, assisting an estimated 1.5 million people.