Lebanese Aid Workers: ‘Stop This War; Stop Killing Us’

Lebanese aid workers, who daily confront the dangers of the ongoing conflict as well as the desperate and forlorn faces of displaced Lebanese civilians, plead for an end to the conflict that is costing innocent lives.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens are displaced from their homes, taking refuge in public school buildings, parks, and some even located on sidewalks as the sound of bombs and sight of smoke remind them that the Lebanon-Israel war has continued into its third week.

“Within this dramatic and unbearable disaster, we await either peace or death,” said Najla Chahda, director of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, according to a report released by Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) on Thursday.

“There are many who wish to leave but cannot,” Chahda added. “We have started to envy those who were able to travel. Still we say this is our Lebanon we cannot leave it.

“And we hope that we will rise with Lebanon again. We call upon the whole world, governments, organizations, institutions, United Nations: please stop this war. Stop killing us,” said the Caritas director.

The 17-day clash between Israel and Hezbollah has killed up to 600 people, according to Lebanon. More than 700,000 have been displaced with an unknown number isolated in villages close to the border with Israel, reported Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday she will return to the Middle East to work with other officials on how to end the Middle East violence, but did not say when. Rice had been expected to return to the region this weekend.

East at any time that I think we can move toward a sustainable ceasefire that can end the violence," according to Reuters.

"The key ... is the extension of Lebanese government authority throughout the country, the ability of the Lebanese government to control all forces, all arms in their country – there should be no militias – and that Lebanon can have the assistance of a U.N.-mandated international force," she said.

Rice attended a closed-door Middle East conference in Rome on Wednesday that ended without a cease-fire agreement.

Meanwhile, some well-known U.S. Christian leaders are calling for Washington to give greater support to Israel. Last week, some 3,000 delegates gathered in the nation’s capital to defend Israel, calling Hezbollah’s attack “a war against western civilization.”

Christians United for Israel spokesperson included Pastor John C. Hagee, senior pastor of the 18,000 member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas; Pastor George Morrison of Faith Bible Chapel in Denver and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promise Keepers; the Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder and chancellor of Liberty University; Gary Bauer, president of American Values and former president of the Family Research Council; Stephen Strang, founder and president of Charisma Magazine; and Janet Parshall, host of the nationally syndicated program Janet Parshall.

The global humanitarian and development agency, World Vision, however, voiced concern for the innocent Lebanese children facing potential outbreaks of disease, increased levels of malnutrition, potential physical threats and lasting psychological trauma as a consequence of the raging violence, and called for an end to the war.

“It is paramount that that there be an immediate ceasefire that will allow the humanitarian space for delivering crucial humanitarian assistance to provide for the most vulnerable who have been affected by the violence,” said Charles Clayton, World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza National Director last Thursday.

He added, “For the sake of all the children in that region, we are calling on those in power to end hostilities, negotiate and end to the crisis and ensure that children are protected at all times.”

A senior U.N. emergency relief official on Friday warned that lack of clean water will soon threaten lives in south Lebanon. Water supplies have also been cut off from Israel’s air strikes of roads and bridges.

“Sanitation is a big issue. Without proper sanitation children will get diarrhea, they will get sick and they will die,” said Daniel Toole, director of emergency programs at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to Reuters on Friday.

"If we cannot get in with means to store water and to transport clean water we will have disease. We will have very serious problems very soon."

"But roads have the water lines underneath them, they have the electrical lines underneath them, so [the bombing has] disrupted all of the essential services," Toole said.

Reports indicate that some people have resorted to drinking “foul” water from a pool used for water for irrigation.

Caritas Migrant Center has provided more than 4,000 migrants and refugees with shelters, basic needs, hygienic supplies, and psychological and medical assistance.

World Vision is trying to meet the immediate needs of children and families in the hardest hit areas by supplying at least US $500,000 in medical and other humanitarian supplies.

Caritas and World Vision have partnered and divided responsibilities of relief intervention with the local community.