MSF shocked by new attack on elementary school in South Lebanon

Press release: Nabatiye/Amsterdam, 17 May 2000 - The International humanitarian medical organisation Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is shocked by a new attack on an elementary school in South Lebanon.

Four shells struck the elementary school in the small village of Arab Salim yesterday morning. One of the shells landed in the exam room. Three other shells came down in the school yard. When the shelling started the school director moved all 320 children to the downstairs corridors as the school bomb shelter is still under construction. No one was injured, but five children suffered a severe shock and fainted during the attack.

One of the local counsellors of MSF will visit the childeren involved and do a debriefing about the attack today. MSF is calling for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and particularly to refrain from carrying out direct attacks on civilian targets.

Arab Salim is right beside the front lines of the zone occupied by Israel, near the city of Nabatiye. The same school was hit by shelling in December 1999. At that time, 15 children were wounded, three of them seriously. MSF did an extensive psycho-social debriefing with all children after this attack.

MSF is actively working in Arab Salim and other southern villages in the area around the city of Nabatiye on a programme for psycho-social care. The people living in these villages, which are located along the front lines of the zone occupied by Israel, suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety due to the years of violence.

A group of Lebanese counsellors working as volunteers has been trained by MSF to provide psycho-social care. The counsellors offer support and guidance to the inhabitants of these villages. MSF has also trained first aid teams and equipped them with medical supplies.

In addition to the activities in the area surrounding Nabatiye, the organisation is also active in Jezzine, an area that was located within the zone occupied by Israel until only a year ago.