killed in Lebanon - Wednesday 26 July 2006
Four unarmed United Nations military
observers were killed in an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon this week.
They were members of UNFIL, the United Nations Force in Lebanon, which has sustained
250 members killed since it was established in 1978. Its role over almost 30 years
has been to help contain conflicts and protect the civilian population.Australian
Defence Force specialists have been deployed to support the evacuation of Australian
nationals from Lebanon. A team of 19 personnel left Sydney on July 20 for Beirut
and Cyprus to assist Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff. Two additional
evacuee processing teams, a command element, and importantly liaison officers,
totaling approximately 65 personnel left on July 21 to support evacuation operations.
The ADF deployment includes movements’ officers, health specialists, linguists
and evacuee processing teams.
The victims included observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, according
to UN and Lebanese military officials
The UK newspaper, The Independent, reported that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud
Olmert, spoke by phone to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, expressing his "deep
regret" and said the peacekeepers were killed mistakenly. He expressed dismay
over Mr Annan's accusation that the attack had been “apparently deliberate”.
Mr Annan later called for participants at a Middle East conference to push for
an immediate ceasefire to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
Hezbollah must stop its "deliberate targeting of Israeli population centres".
And Israel must put an end to all bombing, ground operations and blockades of
Lebanese ports. Both the US and the UK have rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire.
In a statement in Rome, Mr Annan said: "A key stipulation for such a halt
in fighting would be that the parties must not, I repeat, must not take advantage
of such a pause to conduct offence operations, redeploy or re-supply." And
he added that an international force – in addition to UNFIL - would be vital
to keeping peace.
A UN official was reported as saying that since fighting between Israel and Hezbollah
militants began two weeks ago, there had been several dozen incidents of firing
close to UN peacekeepers and observers, including direct hits on nine positions,
some of them repeatedly,. So far 12 UN personnel have been killed or injured since
the fighting began on July 12.
Last night's bomb made a direct hit on the building and shelter of the observer
post in the town of Khiam, near the eastern end of the border with Israel, said
Milos Struger, spokesman for UNFIL.
For more information, access UN
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is positioning
more than 500 tonnes of relief supplies along the Syria-Lebanon border but urgently
needs assurances of safe passage to deliver the much-needed supplies to tens of
thousands of displaced people.
Relief supplies sent so far to Syria include 20,000 mattresses, 20,000 blankets;
5,000 family tents; 5,000 bales of plastic sheeting; 10,000 jerry cans; 5,000
stoves and 5,000 cooking sets. A family tent costs US$ 80. Twenty blankets cost
UNHCR has sent a 19-member Emergency Response Team of humanitarian specialists
to add to its staff in Syria and Lebanon.
The UN has launched its appeal for the Lebanon crisis. UNHCR needs US$18.9 million
to help 150,000 displaced people in Lebanon and neighbouring countries for an
initial period of three months.
For information, go to http://news.supportunhcr.org/cgi-bin2/DM/y/hYzb0Jsscy0FZs0BBNq0EM
To help, please go to http://news.supportunhcr.org/cgi-bin2/DM/y/hYzb0Jsscy0FZs0BA7v0E2
Commenting on his department’s successful efforts to evacuate Australians
caught in the Lebanon conflict, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer,
said on July 25, “… there is a convoy, organised by the United Nations,
of foreign nationals making its way up towards Beirut and there may be some Australians
in that convoy. If that’s the case, then we’ll obviously be able to
get them out during the course of today, but from the end of today we won’t
have those ships automatically made available day by day, as we’ve done
over the last few days, but clearly in emergency circumstances we’ll be
able to take measures to get additional people out – we’ll obviously
try our best to do that. And we can of course always go back and charter vessels
if the numbers start to grow yet again.”
The World Health Organisation is concerned about access to health
care for the people affected by the conflict - including to treatment for the
injured, medicines for people who suffer chronic disease, access to water and
sanitation, including for those who have been displaced, and the overall health
of the most vulnerable: children, pregnant women, people who are chronically ill,
the wounded and the elderly.
WHO experts from Beirut and Geneva include Dr. Ala' Din Alwan, Representative
of the Director-General, Health Action in Crises, Geneva; Dr Jaouad Mahjour, WHO
Representative in Lebanon; and Altaf Musani, WHO Regional Adviser, Emergency and
Humanitarian Action, Beirut.
To date, the current conflict has resulted in more than1200 injured and 346 killed.
Several hundred thousand people have fled their homes, including to neighbouring
Syria. Insecurity in South Lebanon, the destruction of bridges, roads and other
infrastructure, and lack of electricity are threatening people's health.
The injured need access to equipped, safe and functioning hospitals. Those who
are displaced need access to clean water, sanitation, immunisation and other services.
People who are chronically ill, with diabetes or heart disease require continued
access to their life-saving medicines. Particularly vulnerable are the wounded,
women and children, the elderly and the chronically ill. Access to health care,
food, shelter, water and sanitation are all critical lifelines.
The WHO, on behalf of the partners working on health issues, is requesting US$
32.4 million to serve the health needs of 800,000 people over the next three months.
This includes joint actions and activities with partners including UNICEF, UNFPA
and UNRWA. For WHO-specific activities, WHO is requesting almost US$ 14 million.
This appeal is part of the total United Nations' Flash Appeal for Lebanon, which
seeks a total of US$150 million.
WHO is leading the "health cluster"- the coordination body for health
action in this crisis, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH). The
funds will increase the health cluster support to the MoH in tackling several
vital areas of health:
For more information, contact:
- Coordinate the humanitarian response in the health sector;
- Assess the heath impact, damage to health infrastructure and emergency needs
of the health systems;
- Monitor the health threats and risks, including the enhancement of the disease
early warning surveillance and response systems;
- Address gaps in health services delivery and support in the re-establishment
of essential and emergency medical , public health and environment health
- Establish mobile health care units and strengthen functional health centres
capable of delivering maternal and child health, reproductive health, mental
health services and chronic disease management;
- Urgent immunization services campaigns for internally displaced people,
and host communities if needed;
- Establishment and maintenance of vaccine storage and the vaccine cold chain.
In Geneva: Fadéla CHAIB, Communications Officer, telephone
+41 22 791 3228,
In Cairo: Ibrahim KERDANY, Communications Officer for the
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, telephone: +202
Sacha BOOTSMA, Information and Communications Officer, telephone
(+20-10) 182 64 23,
In Beirut: Altaf MUSANI: Regional Adviser for the WHO Regional
Office for the Eastern Mediterranean,