Lebanon: Addressing the psychological scars of conflict

  • International staff: 10
  • National staff: 6 The people of southern Lebanon had been living in the midst of a continuing conflict between Lebanese armed groups and Israel, until Israeli troops and the Israel-supported South Lebanon Army made a hasty withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. MSF continues to bring psychological relief to Lebanese living near the villages of Nebatiye and Jezzine in the south. The organization has trained Lebanese volunteers and social assistants working for the Ministry of Social Affairs in how to recognize stress and trauma, and provide psycho-social care and education. MSF is now working to help the authorities set up their own psycho-social programs in Hasbaye, Chebaa and Bint Jbeil. Through May 2000, MSF also gave first aid training to Lebanese Red Cross volunteers working on the front line. The Israeli evacuation of southern Lebanon in May 2000 did little to change the plight of the country's estimated 350,000 Palestinian refugees. Long denied basic rights by the Lebanese government, most refugees have passed years in overcrowded refugees camps. Many of them have had difficulties getting access to medical care. Through April 2000, MSF worked at the Ain-El-Hilweh refugee camp, bringing medical aid to those who had fallen through the cracks. It was easy to get overlooked in the desperately overcrowded camp, which houses 62,000 people living on one square kilometer. For people too poor or immobile to use the UN dispensary, MSF was able to make house visits. The organization also helped those who were excluded from the UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) health program to access that system. MSF finished up its work at Ain-El-Hilweh after all the refugees had become integrated in either the UNRWA or Red Crescent health systems. MSF also worked in the pediatric hospital in Saida through April 2000, when the pediatric service was turned over to the Palestinian Red Crescent society.