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Aid Trundles but Short of Aiding Lebanon
by IOL (reposted)
Thursday Jul 20th, 2006 8:32 AM
CAIRO — With the scale of the Israeli destruction wrecked on the tiny Arab country failing description, few Islamic charities and civil society organizations are responding to the screams of Lebanon's little kids, cowering in their parents' arms.

"We have raised an initial 1 million euros to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East," Abdul Aziz Rajab-Ali, Deputy Manager of Islamic Relief UK, told over the phone from London.

Rajab-Ali added that IR, an international relief and development charity aiming to alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest people, has also raised 4 million euros through its offices around the world.

The US office is launching an international fund-raising campaign.

"I hope people would respond positively to our fund-raising calls," Abdul Aziz said.

"But, I have to say that the situation changes from time to time. The extent of the aid will depend on the enormity of the disaster and the time this war will take."

Millions of Lebanese are suffering on the dunes of Beirut and the muck of southern Lebanon under unrelenting and shambolic Israeli strikes that have claimed the lives of more than300 people, the sweeping majority of whom are civilians, and wounded hundreds others.

Beirut international airport has been knocked out, ports bombed, bridges destroyed, power stations set ablaze and houses turned to rubble.

Around 15 petrol stations have been blown up, along with fuel depots and water pumping stations.

The onslaught has also left Lebanon virtually cut off from the outside world with an Israeli air and sea blockade.

The highway from Beirut to the Syrian capital Damascus was cut on Tuesday after being repeatedly hit in recent days.

Local Help

The Islamic Relief official said they would mainly deliver food, water and blankets to war-ravaged Lebanese.

"Of course there is a difficulty in delivering aid to the Lebanese, but we are going to depend on locals to show us the neediest places," he noted.

"These peoples' knowledge of the country is much superior to ours."

The IR, an independent NGO founded in the UK in 1984 , was not the only group responding to the screams of psychologically scared Lebanese children and families.

"We've earmarked LE300 , 000($52,000) in aid to the Lebanese," Abdel Kadir Hegazi, Secretary General of the Relief Committee at the Arab Doctors' Union, told IOL.

"This amount of money will go for the medical needs of the Lebanese people."

Because it is difficult for the aid to enter Lebanon given the risky situation there, Hegazi said, the money would be wired to Lebanese officials to buy the medical needs from the local market.

The Cairo-based Union would hold a conference on Friday, July21 , to raise more funds for the Lebanese.

"This is a people who have been hard tit by the Israeli military machine," Hegazi said sorrowfully. "So, we can't be late."

An ambitious campaign launched by the union in Cairo on Friday, May5 , to raise one billion euros for the Palestinian people has whetted the appetite of Egyptians, who raced to make generous donations.

In just a couple of hours, the "Palestine Will Never Die" campaign got donations worth LE 7million ($1.2 million).

The Union has been delivering medical aid to the Palestinians and the Lebanese since1984 .


Some countries and international bodies have already announced aid packages to the Lebanese, with the UN estimating that half a million people have been displaced by the war.

Saudi Arabia has allocated $ 50 million while the European Commission has earmarked € 5million for immediate humanitarian assistance to victims in Lebanon.

A United Arab Emirates freight plane carrying15 fully-equipped ambulances landed Tuesday at Damascus airport as part of medical assistance pledged by the Gulf country.

The 15 ambulances constituted the first batch of24 medical vans ordered by UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as part of efforts to help offer medical aid to Lebanese wounded and injured in the Israeli offensive.

Yet, many believe the pledged aid does not even come close to quenching the thirst of the Lebanese for help in view of the massive Israeli destruction, leaving the country's infrastructure in tatters.

"We don't want their aid," a former Lebanese official shrieked in an interview with the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel.

"The Lebanese need $ 5 billion as an initial step to get over the losses they have sustained so far," the man screamed.