Humanitarian Agencies Issue a Fervent Plea for the Cessation of Hostilities in Southern Lebanon

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The Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum, made up of 66 international non-governmental organizations, expresses profound concern over the escalation of hostilities in Lebanon, particularly in the South, that has now entered its sixth month.1

So far, a shocking 91,288 civilians have been displaced – 37 % of whom are children and 33 % of whom are women – and 42 civilian lives, including 7 children, have been tragically lost.2 3 50 schools have also already closed, depriving 60,000 children’s access to education in the region. Further, 9 primary healthcare centers have closed due to the security situation.4 5

The financial impact of the ongoing hostilities on Southern Lebanon has amounted to 1.2 billion USD in direct losses including affected agricultural lands, with an additional 300 million USD in indirect losses, including businesses affected.6 Independent researchers have also noted that 520 residences have been damaged, while 3,300 others have incurred partial damages. Worryingly, the unlawful use of white phosphorus munitions is a threat to civilian lives and agricultural lands, particularly in a region heavily reliant on agriculture for livelihood, with 47,000 olive trees and other crops already destroyed.7 8

These figures are extremely distressing in a country reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades, where the ongoing escalation of violence will continue to have a dramatic impact on civilian populations in the country, many of whom are already dependent on humanitarian assistance for basic needs.

Wafaa, a 48-year-old single mother of three recently widowed, hails from Kfar Kela, an area in Southern Lebanon heavily bombarded during conflict. She shares the immense challenges she faces following the destruction of her home and loss of her husband due to hostilities:9

“I got a phone call saying that our home is fully damaged. Imagine! What shall I do? Where will I go? We lost everything … When we fled our home, we did not carry any clothes with us. Today, my children and I only have the clothes on us, and when we need to wash them, we lock ourselves in a room until that outfit is dry”.

Roula, a 21 year old also displaced from Kfar Kela, stated,10

“I am sad. I stay in my room most of the time. I want my life back. I want to work again. I need the money, but I also need to feel that I have a purpose.”

While people in Southern Lebanon need assistance more than ever, the escalation of violence has restrained the delivery of humanitarian assistance and restricted the work of humanitarian organizations trying to support all affected communities, particularly communities in hard-to-reach border towns. Despite these challenges, humanitarian organizations remain committed to delivering assistance. We urge all stakeholders to guarantee unimpeded access for humanitarian actors, allowing us to continue our work safely to provide aid to those in need. We remind all parties to the conflict that civilians, humanitarian workers, and civilian infrastructure are not a target.

We strongly appeal to the international community and relevant authorities to prioritize the cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, bringing an end to the suffering and hardships of civilians who are only striving to live safe and dignified lives. We call upon stakeholders to uphold international law and work towards a permanent ceasefire in the region.

  1. The Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum (LHIF) is an informal and independent coordinating body comprised of 6 international NGOs (INGOs) who are working to address the needs of vulnerable individuals, families and communities throughout Lebanon. ↩︎
  2. UNOCHA, January snapshot. ↩︎
  3. IOM Mobility Snapshot Round 26, 29 February 2024. ↩︎
  4. Lebanon at a Glance – UNOCHA – February 21, 2024. ↩︎
  5. Lebanon situation update # 12 – Relief Web. February 2024. ↩︎
  6. Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper, February 2024. ↩︎
  7. Save the Children Press Release, February 2024. ↩︎
  8. The Ministry of Agriculture estimated in November 2023 that 460 hectares of forests and orchards had been affected by white phosphorus, with figures currently expected to be higher. ↩︎
  9. Wafaa’s real name has been changed to protect her identity. ↩︎
  10. Roula’s real name has been changed to protect her identity. ↩︎
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