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, supports the families of missing persons in having 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. It also provides logistical support to ICRC relief operations inside Syria.
Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, and the influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the ICRC stepped in to support the Lebanese Red Cross emergency medical services by facilitating the transfer of wounded Syrians arriving in Lebanon to local hospitals. It covered the cost of medical care for the most critical cases, ran seminars for Lebanese doctors on treating war wounds, especially orthopaedic injuries, distributed food and other essential assistance to refugees from Syria, and constantly reminded the authorities of their obligations to abide by the principle of non-refoulement.
Restoring family links
Hundreds of families remain without news of their loved ones, who went missing in the armed conflicts that ravaged Lebanon since 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 – notably the right to know the fate of their relatives – are acknowledged and addressed. In 2012, the ICRC conducted a study to better assess their needs. At the request of the families, it also started gathering detailed information about missing people, so that, in the future, such data can be used to provide them with answers 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.
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.
Supporting the Lebanese Red Cross
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 transferring wounded Syrians crossing into Lebanon to hospitals and treating them.
Promoting international humanitarian law
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.