August 2, 2006
People waving white flags continue to drive towards Beirut, fleeing the southern part of their country. They are leaving behind not only their homes, but also lives that in many respects were characterized by the rebuilding of their country since the last war.
People waving white flags continue to drive towards Beirut, fleeing the southern part of their country. They are leaving behind not only their homes, but also lives that in many respects were characterized by the rebuilding of their country since the last war. Today, their reality is very different. In the words of a 73-year old woman: "We are afraid of what lies ahead over the next few days. We are afraid for the children of Lebanon."
UCC Wider Church Ministries is a member of the Action by Churches Together, International (ACT) alliance. One Great Hour of Sharing is supporting relief efforts of ACT members based in Lebanon. Click here to make a secure on-line donation.
Beirut, Lebanon, August 1, 2006- Hege Opseth, ACT member Norwegian Church Aid
Planning an emergency operation in today's Lebanon is not an easy task. Nobody here knows where the next bombs will fall, or how deep the Israeli offensive will manage to strike-leaving far more questions than answers at this stage of the conflict.
"ACT International is trying to meet some of the immediate needs of the internally displaced," said Tor Valla, of ACT member Norwegian Church Aid, which, along with ACT's local member of the global alliance, Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), is implementing the ACT Lebanon appeal.
"At the same time we are making plans as to how we can effectively meet the crisis that will be there once a cease-fire is in place.
"Most of the people we have spoken to are clear that they want to go home-if they can," Valla said.
In the meantime, ACT International and its members and partners in the country, along with other humanitarian agencies continue to bring what relief they can, by distributing emergency parcels containing food, and by setting up water and sanitation systems such as showers, to meet the immediate needs of people seeking shelter in the centers for displaced persons that have sprung up over the weeks since the bombardments started.
An elderly woman sits huddled on the floor in the National Evangelical School of Saida in southern Lebanon. She is upset. She talks of a life characterized by many dramatic events, saying that this is hard for her-to again live through another war at her age.
Other people we talk to agree: memories of the last war still pose a heavy burden for this nation, one which had just started blossoming again.
"Look at me, I have problems with my blood pressure, diabetes, my hip [was] broken. I cannot move without my stick," 73-year old Wahibe says quietly. She is sitting on some blankets on the hard concrete floor of the IDP centre. She lost most of her belongings when she fled her home with her family.
The IDP centre is sheltering some 1,000 people-offering a refuge that people believe to be as safe as it gets in the south today, but still a far cry from the lives they lived and loved.
The streets are filled with the sounds of ambulance sirens.
And still, people are fleeing the south of their country. Yesterday's news that this nightmare may not be over soon adds to peoples' fears. People have no knowledge of what will face them when, and if they are able to go home. Many people are finding it difficult to believe the brutality of what is happening.
On the 20th day of the conflict, the Lebanese wait. For what is to come. For any news. But most of all, for news of a cease-fire, only a few daring to hope that this nightmare will end soon.
Hege Opseth is a communication staff person of Norwegian Church Aid, which is a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. Hege is on assignment in Lebanon on behalf of NCA and ACT.
See July 27, UCC supports Middle East Partner's response to growing humanitarian crisis in region for further information regarding the UCC/ACT response.
How you can help
1. Please pray for the people of Lebanon, Israel and Palestine and all those impacted by this conflict.
2. To help those affected by this disaster you may send gifts payable to your congregation marked "Middle East Crisis", with the request they are sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.
3. Send gifts payable to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Middle East Crisis", to Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation by clicking on the donation button at the top of this page.