“We have to start from scratch.” Displaced people in southern Lebanon whose lives were destroyed by the Israeli war

About 4 months ago, Anais Tahini fled her border town in southern Lebanon with her family as Hezbollah and Israel began exchanging bombings. She did not think that the displacement would last long and that her home would be damaged as a result of the surge.

The mother of three regrets the fate of her home and the difficult conditions of displacement after she moved into a school that had been converted into a shelter in the coastal city of Tyre, lacking the most basic necessities of life.

Tahini (37 years old) told Agence France-Presse that the Israelis bombed my brother's house. Due to this, it was completely burnt, while my apartment located on the ground floor was damaged.

Tahini is among more than 86,000 people who have been displaced from their homes since the war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7 following cross-border tensions, according to the United Nations.

Lebanon's border towns have been under Israeli bombardment for some time in response to missiles fired from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah, which it says are in support of the Palestinian resistance.

The Tahini family, displaced from the border town of Aita al-Shaab, relies on her soldier husband's salary, currently $150, which was not enough to support the family even before displacement.

With tears in her eyes she said: “If I were able to rent a house in Tyre, I would do so, but we can't do that and we don't know what will happen to us.”

Aid for Lebanese displaced from their villages as a result of the Israeli (French) war
Aid for Lebanese displaced from their villages as a result of the Israeli (French) war

Aita al-Shaab is one of the border towns most affected by Israeli bombardment, which led to the destruction of a large number of houses.

The national news agency publishes almost daily reports of attacks that seriously damage homes and destroy others. Hezbollah regularly announces the killing of its members in shootouts with Israel. Bombings also affect ordinary citizens.

Tahini reports that her neighbors' property was damaged as a result of Israeli bombing, and she says angrily: “All these people have to start afresh.”

“Our lives have changed”

According to Agence France-Presse calculations, the escalation led to the deaths of 216 people in Lebanon, including 161 Hezbollah fighters and 26 civilians, including 3 journalists, while 15 people were killed on the Israeli side, including 6 civilians. Israeli army.

Hezbollah has announced plans to target Israeli military sites and points, while Israeli forces respond with air and artillery bombardments, which it says target the party's “infrastructure” and the activities of fighters near the border. Makes a target.

In a classroom in the same shelter center in Tire that has become his home, Hafez Mustafa (46 years old) explains that his ten children stopped learning in schools and universities as a result of displacement.

“My two daughters were forced to stop going to university because of my inability to save $400 before the exams,” said the man, who earned a living from two cow farms before his displacement from his hometown of Beit Lev.

According to him, Israeli bombing targeted a farm owned by him and his partner, causing several cows to be killed and others to flee.

He had to sell 17 cows on another farm to support his family and his inability to secure space to keep them.

“We were teaching children, we had money and our affairs were good… the war turned our lives upside down,” he sighs.

He adds: “Even if I return to my city, I will start my life anew,” adding: “We are tired of the war. It has been going on for a long time and we can't take it anymore. Can't bear it.”

According to the United Nations, the Tire region is home to the largest number of displaced people and more than 27,000 have fled there. About a thousand of them live in shelters.

The head of the disaster management unit of the Union of Tire Municipalities, Mourtada Muhanna, says: “The displaced have many needs and we are not able to provide them,” adding: “We did not expect the period of displacement to be so long. “And the situation is becoming more complex.”

The displaced people, coming from 87 villages and towns, need assistance at every level, according to Muhanna, who was speaking from the disaster management room surrounded by volunteers and government staff working continuously with screens and lists. Their nearby names and phone numbers.

A girl ran away from her village in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (French)
A girl ran away from her village in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel (French)

In the wake of Lebanon's unprecedented economic collapse since 2019 and the decline in the value of the local currency, the ability of authorities to provide basic services has been diminished. According to Muhanna, displaced people in Tire area received food rations only once in about 4 months, amid lack of basic needs like mattresses, covers and pillows.

He adds: “These families have lost their property and jobs and are not able to buy the things they need.”

Like Mustafa, many confirm that while they were well off and able to meet all their needs, they found themselves displaced overnight.

Abbas Fakih (40 years old) decided to flee with his wife and four children from the village of Rab Talatin to the town of Shriffa, located 15 kilometers from the border, which was safe from Israeli bombardment.

He considers himself fortunate to be living in a house with his large family without paying rent, and is able to move his animals to a nearby plot of land.

But this did not yield any solution without losing some of their sources of livelihood.

“I had 250 goats, and I have sold about 60 of them so far to provide food for the family and fodder for the rest of the livestock,” he told Agence France-Presse, while his children were visiting their cousin nearby. Used to play with brothers. Him.

He explains that many newborn kittens died due to the cold and the preparation of the part of the land to which they transferred them. He regrets his inability to sow wheat and lentils this year.

Fakih hopes that the bombing will stop and he will be able to return to his village. He says: “We follow the news with bated breath, hoping to hear news of a ceasefire.”

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