Le promesse di Israele di aprire un corridoio umanitario in Libano sono un'illusione
He praised the courage of Lebanese relief workers and medical staff, saying that they were the ones doing most of the work in the area. "Talk of humanitarian corridors should not mask the real situation," Stokes, the group's director of operations, told reporters in Beirut, speaking of getting help to victims of fighting between Isral and Hezbollah guerrillas.
"We have had contacts (with the Israeli army). They have not been very productive, in terms of having contacts for security guarantees and we not been given any encouragement that we would have the guarantees to work in the south," he said.
Stokes had nothing but praise for the Lebanese workers.
"Lebanese associations are doing most of the work in the south, without any security guarantees," he said. "I have been in a lot of war zones, I have rarely seen people so committed ... They are the ones doing most of the work, not the international community." He said it was impressive how many Lebanese doctors and surgeons in local hospitals had sent their families to safety but stayed behind to serve their communities.
The main issue was access to the war zone in the south and to patients trapped in "small pockets" within or on the fringes of the fighting and in need of medical care.
"Whole areas of Lebanon are cut off," Stokes warned.
"Our reach has been very limited, only to a few major towns ... Our supplies to Tyre are sent by taxi because it is too difficult to send them by truck as the risks of air strikes are too high." Patients "who need dialysis treatment are struck. The diagnosis for these people is poor," Stokes warned, noting that they needed three shots a week.
He said that hospitals in the towns of Nabatiyeh and Jezzine had 10 days worth of supplies, at normal operating levels, and that MSF was trying to resupply them at a rate of only a few hundred kilograms (pounds) at a time because of the transportation risks.
"We have had rockets within a couple of hundred metres of our teams, two days in a row" in the southern port city of Tyre, where MSF on Thursday opened a clinic, he said.
On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross drove the first aid convoy to the border village of Rmeish in south Lebanon, where about 30,000 refugees have been cut off.
Israel launched a massive military onslaught on Lebanon after the Shiite militant group Hezbollah captured two soldiers on July 12. More than 420 people, mostly civilians, have since been confirmed dead, with many more feared buried alive under rubble.-AFP