HomeTop StoriesRed Cross 'concerned' about hospitals in southern Lebanon in case of escalation

Red Cross ‘concerned’ about hospitals in southern Lebanon in case of escalation

MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (Reuters) – An escalation of fighting on Lebanon’s southern border would put further pressure on hospitals already strapped for cash amid a national financial crisis, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said in the Middle East Wednesday.

Lebanon’s heavily armed Hezbollah party has exchanged fire with Israel across the border for the past five months, paralleling the Gaza war. Israeli shelling on Lebanon has killed more than 50 civilians, along with more than 200 Hezbollah fighters, according to medical and security sources.

Israel says about a dozen of its soldiers and half as many civilians have been killed in shelling from Lebanon into the country’s north.

Doctors in southern Lebanon have sounded the alarm, saying an influx of injured people has pushed the health sector to its limits.

Speaking to Reuters outside Lebanon’s Marjayoun hospital, near the border with Israel, Fabrizio Carboni said Lebanon does not have the necessary resources to support its health facilities.

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“Then you also have a lot of healthcare workers who have left the country – so yes, there is concern,” he said.

“We know that if something were to happen – and we hope that the situation will not worsen – there will be a need for substantial medical support for the population of southern Lebanon and all the people affected by the conflict,” Carboni said.

Marjayoun hospital has 14 emergency beds and is struggling to function due to a lack of staff and, crucially, fuel shortages, its director told Reuters. It runs 20 hours a day on its own electricity generators and pays up to $20,000 a month for fuel.

Carboni urged warring parties at the Lebanon-Israel border to respect the protected status of medical personnel and facilities, saying it was “very worrying and deeply worrying” to see cases of rescue workers killed in shelling .

Seven rescue workers and paramedics have been killed in Israeli shelling in the past five months, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry.

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(Reporting by Aziz Taher and Ahmad Kerdi; Writing by Maya Gebeily; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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