Ceasefire improves access to displaced in Lebanon
A month after the beginning of the war, a ceasefire has returned a measure of calm to Israel and Lebanon.
In the preceding days, heavy fighting and bombardments had made it extremely difficult for MSF to reach people in many areas of Lebanon, especially in the south and in the eastern Bekaa valley.
Hours after the ceasefire came into effect, thousands of displaced started returning to their homes. Though fighting can still break out at any moment and unexploded ordnance remains on roads, in fields and in towns, the displaced are eager to leave the collective centers where living conditions are difficult.
Until Monday, the four hospitals in Sour (Tyre) were struggling to keep functioning with food, fuel and medical supplies quickly running out. Despite regular artillery and air attacks in and around the town, MSF supplied the hospitals with emergency medical material and bed sheets, and with blankets for the displaced having taken refuge in the hospital buildings.
MSF also improved the surgical facilities of the Bashour hospital and has medical material ready to provide additional emergency surgical capacity should the violence resume.
Mobile teams continue to go out two days a week to provide medical care to displaced people in collective centers in Sour (about 100 consultations per mobile clinic per day). Drugs for chronically ill have been brought to ten villages around Sour. MSF teams have distributed hygiene kits and other supplies to 3,000 displaced people in and around Sour. Baby milk formula and diapers have also been provided for 1,000 babies.
Near the Israeli border, MSF supplied drugs to the local hospitals in Tebnine - hit and partly destroyed on Sunday - and in Bent Jbail, where health staff returned on Monday after an evacuation of several days because of the fighting.
In SaÃ?¯da (Sidon), 30,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) have been registered in collective centers, and an estimated 70,000 in private houses. In each of its three outpatient clinics, MSF is seeing about 40 patients a day. MSF also runs mobile clinics that offer basic health care and treatment for chronic diseases to about 2,500 IDPs in five collective centers.
Children are being vaccinated against measles and polio. Hygiene and cooking kits, blankets, bed sheets, and baby milk formula were distributed to 20,000 displaced in SaÃ?¯da.
Further east, MSF has provided 3,300 mattresses, 850 cans of baby milk and 500 hygiene kits to locations in the region of Jezzine, where approximately 20,000 displaced people are registered. MSF supports a total of seven hospitals in the town of Jezzine, in Nabatiye, Jobb Jannine, Qaraaoun and Niha whenever the drug supply is ruptured.
The conditions of the estimated 250,000 displaced people in the Aley region (Chouf mountain) are improving slightly. Many of the displaced from the southern suburbs of Beirut started returning. MSF continues to provide assistance in the towns where the concentration of displaced remains high, in particular the Shia villages to the southwest of Aley.
MSF has provided baby milk and emergency materials, such as mattresses, as well as cooking, hygiene and cleaning sets. In total, more than 10,000 displaced people in the area have received non food items. MSF is providing and chlorinating drinking water for displaced in the collective centres in Aley and the villages of Kaifoun and El Qmatiye.
In cooperation with the Lebanese health authorities a system has been put in place to track displaced patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy or hart condition. MSF has provided consultations in fixed clinics and home visits to 130 of these patients and is supplying the necessary drugs to the hospital in Aley and to several clinics.
Of the more than 100,000 internally displaced people in Beirut, some began returning immediately after the announcement of the ceasefire, leaving certain collective centers nearly completely empty. Two MSF mobile clinics guarantee basic health care, providing over 650 consultations a week, and distribute medicines for chronic diseases in sites with about 4,500 displaced. In addition, MSF is supporting two mobile clinics run by local NGOs.
Between 20 to 30% of all consultations are related to mental health problems. Psychologists have started to offer psychosocial support for children as well as adults. Most mental health cases are related to war trauma. In addition, and although we continue to see a number of patients with chronic diseases, we also note a significant increase in the number of people suffering from acute illnesses such as respiratory tract infections (RTIs), diarrhoeal diseases and skin diseases. MSF is providing drinking water and distributed over 1,250 mattresses, 1,350 hygiene and 250 baby kits as well as fire extinguishers and rubbish bins.
In Baalbek, MSF teams have distributed 500 hygiene kits and blankets over the last two days to displaced people in the city and surrounding villages. In addition, out patient consultation resumed at the Ministry of Health hospital in Baalbek with MSF and Ministry of Health doctors working hand in hand.
Some 200,000 Lebanese refugees are estimated to have crossed into neighbouring Syria, many of them finding refuge with relatives or friends. Approximately 35,000 have been able to find shelter in schools and public buildings. The MSF team is responding to the needs of refugees in Damascus and providing relief goods.
As described above MSF teams have been distributing relief goods to the most needy in different locations. In total, at least 45,000 displaced in Lebanon and 8,500 refugees in Syria have received non food items such as cooking equipment, mattresses, blankets, stoves, and hygiene kits containing soap, razors, toothbrushes etc.
Lebanese medical staff are coping with most medical needs, but need a continued supply of medicines, including drugs for treating chronic diseases. MSF has distributed materials for 5,000 haemodialysis treatments for those with kidney disease. The MSF teams are working with Lebanese medics in fixed and mobile clinics to cope with the remaining demand for medical care for displaced people.
Supplies are still arriving from Europe into neighbouring countries where supply bases have been set up. So far, 310 tons of material have arrived in Beirut, and is being transported to the different areas where MSF teams are working. This material is mainly composed of non food items (hygiene kits, cooking sets, portable toilets, tents, mattresses, blankets), medical material (material for dialysis, medicines, surgical kits, etc.) and logistical material (sanitation equipment, water bladders, cars, etc.)
International Staff: 37 National staff: over 60