The international community has begun mobilising humanitarian aid for the people of Lebanon, aid that the Israeli government says it will allow to enter the country. At least half a million people are thought to have fled their homes and are either staying with relatives or being sheltered in schools and other community buildings.
The European Union has pledged 10 million euros and expressed grave concern over the situation. The first plane load of French aid left Paris this morning for Cyprus. From there, the generators, medicines and food will be shipped to Beirut.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen say the aid shows Europe’s solidarity with civilians in Lebanon. Vanhanen reiterated that the EU is ready to help the UN by sending peacekeepers to Lebanon, after a ceasefire has been declared.
Barroso said: “I received a very dramatic phone call from the Prime Minister of Lebanon and we are already prepared to meet the most immediate humanitarian needs.”
Refugees who have fled south Lebanon and Beirut’s southern suburbs have been sheltering in public parks and schools
“I had the chance to go but cancelled the trip,” said one man who has German residency.
“It’s not right that someone travels and lives away from their family and country. I have lived abroad for 15 years but came back to live in my country and, despite the war, I’m attatched to it.”
The UN Refugee Agency is preparing to help those Lebanese who have fled to the Syrian border, thought to be in their tens of thousands.
Meanwhile the Pope has called on followers around the world to pray for an immediate ceasefire.