Lebanon war 'puts peace back ten years'

02 November 2006


MISSIONARIES who were evacuated by the British navy from Lebanon plan treturn to the war-torn country to continue evangelism, after the cessation ohostilities between Israel and Hizbollah
The Vicar of All Saints' International Congregation in Beirut, the RevNabil Shehadi, who has been staying in the UK since just before the outbreak owar (News28 July), said on Wednesday that 20 missionaries were hoping to return nexmonth.
"The one redeeming thing has been that quite a fechurches, schools, and Christian institutions have opened their doors to peoplfrom the south. Now it can once more be the centre for Christian mission it habeen historically."
International aid agencies also welcomed thceasefire, and spoke of their hopes of helping to rebuild the devastatecommunities of southern Lebanon at a press conference in Beirut oTuesday.
People were desperate to return home, even though manhad no idea what they might find, said Janet Symes of Christian Aid. "Estimatesuggest that up to 15,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving 100,000 peoplhomeless."
Shaista Aziz from Oxfam told the media: "The humamisery on the ground is immense, as is the logistical challenge that we face tget aid into the worst-affected areas, because of the shortage of fuel and thdestruction of roads and bridges across Lebanon." Islamic Relief, World Visionand Save the Children were also at the briefing.
Hilary Benn, thminister for international development, who was in Beirut on Tuesday, backethe call to all sides to maintain the ceasefire, so that aid could get to ththousands of Lebanese in need. He announced an additional 6 million to brinthe UK's aid contribution to 12.5 million for food, water, sanitationemergency bridges, and mine clearance
Canon Andrew White, CEO of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the MiddlEast, warned on Wednesday that the war had severely damaged the peace processFaith initiatives such as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Alexandria Declaratiobetween Anglicans and Muslims in the Middle East < href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/a09c2451b6d7706c80256fa20013d6e7?opendocumentNews, 25 January 2002) had been badly affected
" its="" all="" a="" mess.="" what="" is="" on="" paper="" is="" not="" a="" lasting="" solution.="" this="" is="" thworst="" we="" have="" seen="" it="" for="" a="" long="" time.="" the="" religious="" component="" in="" this="" conflicis="" increasing,="" not="" decreasing.="" this="" has="" put="" any="" peace="" negotiations="" back="" aleast="" ten="">
"But at least the shelling has stopped, and wcan begin to move forward. We had to put everything on hold because it waimpossible to do anything when people were being killed. Even initiatives likthe Alexandria process, which was the religious arm of the peace process, havbeen affected. The relationships are still there, but we will have to staragain," he said.
Official sources stated that there had been abou1300 deaths and more than 3500 injured on both sides. About one million peoplhave been displaced, mostly in Lebanon.
The humanitarian situatioin Gaza and the West Bank has also deteriorated since June. There were 17Palestinian fatalities there in July, the largest number since April 2002, saiOpen Bethlehem. Carol Dabdoub, who chairs the organisation, on Tuesday accuseIsrael of taking advantage of the conflict in Lebanon to increase pressure oGaza.
Letters < href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/4fb99d3e6e38be09802571cd0041a8cc?opendocumenteach side claims victo

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