(Tues 10th Oct) Extreme conflict between Palestine and Israel erupted last Saturday 7th Oct. The death toll is now reported to be 1,730. Following this dramatic escalation in violence, two senior GOAL staff connected to the aid agency’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) have travelled to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. These include Derek O’Rourke, GOAL’s Regional Safety Advisor for the Middle East and Colin Lee, Director of Programme Operations , GOAL HQ in Dublin.
GOAL has had significant operations for over 12 years in the Middle East, including in NW Syria, Southern Türkiye, Jordan, and Iraq, working with host populations (including internally displaced people and refugees).GOAL does not currently have an operation in Lebanon but has very close links to the country through it’s SMT (Senior Management Team) and Board.
Speaking about GOAL’s scoping mission in Beirut, which begins today, Derek O’Rourke, GOAL’s Regional Safety Advisor for the Middle East, said,
“There is a possibility that Lebanon will be drawn into this conflict, which could result in a high number of causalities and displacement amongst the already hosted population in Lebanon. Our efforts will initially focus on discussions with potential humanitarian aid partners on the ground in Lebanon so that we can scale up quickly to deliver emergency and life-saving humanitarian aid, should it be needed.”
“The last time Lebanon became significantly involved in a major conflict was during the 2006 34-day war. This conflict resulted in up to 1,300 lives lost, including both military personnel and civilians, and displacement. It also caused substantial infrastructural damage and had a long-lasting impact on the economy.”
Also speaking about GOAL’s scoping mission in the wake of the escalation in violence, Colin Lee, GOAL’s Director of Programme Operations, who is now in Beirut, said,
“The 2006 Lebanon conflict created a humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions in Lebanon, with thousands of people in need of necessities such as food, water, shelter, and medical care. Since 2019, the country has been going through a complex economic and financial crisis, further deepened by political strife, a steady deterioration of social stability and systems, and additional internal and external shocks. Lebanon remains without a functioning government and is highly dependent on external support. 78% of Lebanese currently live below the poverty line.
“Lebanon is already host to over one million Syrian refugees because of the Syrian conflict and hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. So, we must be ready for Lebanon to be drawn into this crisis and the resulting humanitarian needs of civilians. And we call on all parties to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons and ensure access to those affected,” continued Colin Lee.