Ban Ki-moon deplores deadly violence at refugee camp in Lebanon

Ban Ki-moon deplores deadly violence at refugee camp in Lebanon

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led mounting United Nations concern today about the continuing deadly clashes between the Lebanese army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, urging all sides to avoid more bloodshed.

Mr. Ban “deplores the criminal attacks carried out over the past several days against the Lebanese army and security forces” and considers them an assault on Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty, his spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement added the Secretary-General also condemns the attack today against a six-vehicle convoy from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that was trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to the camp, Nahr el-Bared.

The convoy had reached the perimeter of the camp – home to about 31,000 Palestinians – when it was hit by shells, causing heavy damage to three vehicles and destroying water towers and bladders, milk, bread and medical supplies.

Mr. Ban “calls for the immediate establishment of safe corridors to allow medical staff to assist and evacuate those in need,” the statement said. “He is deeply saddened by the civilian casualties that have resulted and he appeals to all concerned to do their utmost to avoid further bloodshed.”

Mr. Ban’s call was echoed by UNRWA’s Director in Lebanon Richard Cook, who voiced deep concern about the worsening humanitarian situation inside Nahr el-Bared, where media reports say dozens of civilians have been killed since fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah el-Islam members erupted on Sunday.

Mr. Cook said UNRWA is trying to provide essential care, food and water to camp residents and to evacuate the dead and the injured, working in close cooperation with the Lebanese army, the Lebanese Red Cross, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Under regular conditions UNRWA provides basic services to Nahr el-Bared, including primary health care at a camp clinic where UN doctors examine 500 patients a day normally.

In the statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also strongly condemned the terrorist bombing that took place last night in the Verdun district of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Media reports say 10 people were injured in the blast and several apartments and cars were badly damaged.

The Secretary-General said he is monitoring the situation carefully and remains in close contact with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other regional leaders.