Uncertainty after Israeli withdrawl

MSF is deeply concerned about the lack of protection for civilians in Southern Lebanon. The threat of harm is ever-present and the future uncertain.

"We see a huge increase in stress and anxiety amongst the population. The people are living in total uncertainty about what will happen to them during and after the withdrawal of Israel", said country manager Caroline Taylor. MSF urges all parties in South Lebanon to protect civilian population.

MSF's mental health teams working in the south of Lebanon, have found high levels of chronic and acute stress in the communities with whom they work. This indicates how deeply threatened the civilian population feels by the conflict.

In addition to casualties and injuries, homes and property have been destroyed and schools have come under fire. Only six days ago, a shell struck an elementary school in the village of Arab Salim during school hours. The children rushed to the downstairs corridors to seek shelter. By chance nobody was injured.

The same school was hit by shelling in December 1999. At that time, fifteen children were wounded, three of them seriously. MSF did an extended psycho-social debriefing with all children involved after each incident.

A practical mental health survey by MSF indicates that 23% of the 124 respondents in the region of Nabatiye reported the loss of a family member in the conflict and 18% reported experiencing the direct bombardment of their house. People's livelihoods and economic opportunities have been severely restricted by the conflict. The continuing threat of harm experienced on a daily basis over many years have contributed to very high levels of stress and anxiety suffered by the civilian populations of southern Lebanon.