MSF looks back on its Lebanon emergency response

The first MSF team entered Lebanon on July 20, one week after the conflict started. The team rapidly grew and, a few weeks into the conflict, 37 international and 63 national staff were working in Lebanon and Syria in nine areas: Beyrouth, SaÃ?¯da, Sour, Jezzine, Nabatiye, West Bekaa, Aley, Baalbek and Damascus.

There were two phases to MSF's emergency response as the needs on the ground evolved rapidly.

During the first phase of the emergency, charactized by ongoing fighting, bombings and major population displacements, MSF's operations focused on three main activities:

  • Providing assistance (relief items, medical care, water and sanitation activities) to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who sought refuge in Beyrouth, SaÃ?¯da, Sour, Jezzine, Nabatiye and West Bekaa districts, Aley region, and to the refugees in neighboring Syria.
  • Supporting the local health structures that were running out of medical supplies, and pre-positioning emergency supplies ahead of transportation routes being cut.
  • Seeking access to populations trapped in combat areas, mainly south of the Litani river and in the Bekaa Valley.

    After the cease-fire came into effect, on August 14, the majority of displaced people were keen to return home. Two days after the beginning of the truce most displaced centers were empty. In this second phase, MSF refocused its activity on:

  • Assessing needs in areas that had been previously inaccessible.
  • Bringing support – medical and non-medical - to returnees and to those who stayed behind, mainly in the south and in the Bekaa Valley.
  • Providing medical supplies to health facilities in the most affected areas to facilitate their prompt reopening.
  • Replenishing host communities' drained resources after the displaced people had left.

    Before and after the cease-fire, the majority of medical needs were addressed directly by Lebanese health structures. MSF's work consisted mainly in supporting them. With the acute phase of the humanitarian emergency ending and many organizations arriving to help with the reconstruction, MSF has decided to scale down its activities. The organization will however keep on monitoring the situation in case it deteriorates.

    Throughout the conflict more than 60,000 displaced in Lebanon and 3,500 refugees in Syria received relief items such as cooking and hygiene kits, mattresses, blankets, bed sheets, baby formulas, tents, etc. More than 300 tonnes of material were sent to Beirut, including relief items, medical supplies (material for dialysis, medicines, surgical kits, etc.) and logistical materials(sanitation equipment, water bladders, etc.).

    All MSF activities in Lebanon were financed through private funds.