Friday, August 04, 2006

Incident: Evacuation Route Bombing, Lebanon

Israeli air strikes have closed the main road from Beirut to Damascus, eliminating the route for evacuation use or convoys. Additional attacks earlier this morning destroyed key bridges on the northern route into Beirut, further isolating the city. (Photo Mohamed Azakir / Reuters)

I heard from a colleague on an NGO assessment team who followed a UN convoy into Beirut on the northern route within the past few days. He said there were no security issues and traffic was flowing normally. However with the bridges now destroyed, there is concern about the best way to evacuate if the need came. The part of Beirut he is located in has not been impacted by the attacks, and he describes the situation as normal seeming, but with fewer people and less traffic. Shelling can be heard to the south. One of the major safety and security concerns among international NGO staff on the scene is if Hezbollah makes good on its threat of launching missiles at Tel Aviv. How the Israelis would react is unknown, but there is some apprehension that retaliatory attacks could be launched and impact areas of Beirut that have not been physically touched by the conflict.

Our thoughts are with all the NGO security practitioners, in the field and at home, who are dealing with the many challenges this conflict has brought and continues to bring.


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