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An estimated 800,000 people uprooted by attacks, says Lebanese body

Hassan al-Ali (right) and his family shelter in Sanayeh Park in Beirut, the capital. He and his seven children have been displaced from southern Beirut

BEIRUT, 26 Jul 2006 (IRIN) - An estimated 800,000 people have been affected in Lebanon by the current crisis, with hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes, according to the Lebanese Higher Relief Council established by the Lebanese government to deal with the crisis.

A spokeswoman for the Council, Mouna Souccarieh, told IRIN on Wednesday that some 100,000 were foreigners who were evacuated, including some Lebanese with dual nationality. Around 150,000 more people, mainly Syrian, Lebanese and other foreigners, crossed the border into Syria since the Israeli attacks began on 12 July, she said.

According to Souccarieh, an estimated 550,000 people have been displaced inside the country of which 106,780 are staying in government schools and buildings. She said the rest were staying with relatives, or renting houses or paying for rooms in hotels.

Most of the internally displaced are said to be Lebanese, but there are also about 20,000 third country nationals, and some 1,000 displaced Palestinians.

While there is no complete breakdown of the areas in which the internally displaced are living, figures available suggest 32, 465 are in Beirut; 42,271 in Mount Lebanon; 3,370 in north Lebanon; 24,151 in southern Lebanon and 4,523 in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman in Beirut, Hicham Hassan, told IRIN on Wednesday that many families in the southern cities and towns of Tyre (70 km from Beirut), Bint Jbeil (80 km from Beirut) and Marjeyoun (55 km from Beirut) were still besieged in their houses.

There has been heavy fighting between Israeli and Hizbullah forces in Bint Jbeil, a Hizbullah stronghold close to the Israeli border.

"Some of them haven't seen the sunlight for more than 13 days, and they don't even know what happened to their closest neighbours," he said. "So far we have sent four convoys to Tyre and one to Marjeyoun. That was the first time they saw people from out of town," he added.

Hassan also said these southern towns were suffering from shortages of medical supplies and food. "The convoys we sent distributed some of those supplies and we made quick assessment on the ground to find out what the needs were".

The ICRC in Lebanon is expected to release an evaluation report on the humanitarian situation in the south.

The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006

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