In Lebanon, thousands of refugees are streaming north to Beirut to escape Israeli shellfire and air raids in the south.
In Lebanon, thousands of refugees are streaming north to Beirut to escape Israeli shellfire and air raids in the south. On Sunday (March 19), Israeli forces were reported to have pushed their way six miles (8 kilometres) north of Tyre, well beyond the limits of the original buffer zone they set themselves on invading Lebanon five days earlier. According to Beirut Radio, Israeli warplanes even flew over the Northern Lebanese port of Tripoli before being driven off by ground fire.
SYNOPSIS: This village of Nabatiyeh is one of several South Lebanese areas to come under Israeli fire. Once a bustling market town, it is now largely deserted. Only a handful of civilians remain and with heavy artillery shells hitting this area at a rate of three a minute, those few people are not expected to stay much longer. But when they do leave, they cannot be sure of receiving help, for Lebanon is not a welfare state.
Air raids on the port of Sidon have forced these families to join the refugee stream. Reliable sources in Beirut claim at least 70,000 people have fled their homes since Israel launched its land, air and sea attack on Palestinian positions in South Lebanon. Families fled in open lorries, by mule, on foot, or in taxis-sometimes with up to 15 in a car. Some have found a temporary home in a forest camp under canvas.
Others have poured into Beirut, placing a great strain on accommodation and resources. There have been reports of refugees forcibly taking over vacant office blocks and some observers predict a breakdown of law and order.
Early last week a ministerial committee was set up to provide emergency relief for refugees and the International Red Cross was asked for help. The Governor of South Lebanon, Mr. halim Fayyad-seen here touring a camp-wants essential supplies sent quickly.