In the midst of the military operation that ravaged Lebanon in July-August 2006, most of the international and national NGO as well as other CSO were mobilized to respond to the acute humanitarian crisis that resulted from the forced displacement of almost one fourth of the population; where thousands of families sought safe havens in the Central and Northern parts of the country.
NDH-ALEF, as a Human rights based group, identified two challenges: the first was related to the nature of the conflict and monitoring of the International Humanitarian Law violations (IHL) committed by both parties to the conflict (Hizbullah & Israel), the second was more focused on monitoring the situation of the displaced individuals and families with reference to the UN guiding principles on displacement.
The conflict itself was initiated by a non-state actor (Hizbullah), from the territory of a sovereign state (Lebanon -without the endorsement of its central government) against another state (Israel). The disproportionate Israeli retaliation targeted not only the aggressor but the population and the civilian infrastructure at large. The country (Lebanon) was subject to collective punishment, described to be the worst and severest seen in decades. The counter-retaliation engaged by Hizbullah was not confined to the Israeli military bases/personnel but also extended to target civilians and civilian infrastructure.
The reports produced by NDH-ALEF cover the nature of the conflict and the major violations to IHL that happened in Lebanon and Israel. Both parties were responsible for massive violations of IHL. The international community (through the UN Security Council) was not able to impose a settlement on belligerent parties, uncovering a shameful submission to political pressures exerted by major powers. The large numbers of civilian casualties were partly due to the impunity inspired form the international impotency of the UN Security Council to act for peaceful settlements of disputes and conflicts.
The reports reflect as well the findings of our field teams who monitored the situation of the displaced through field visits and interviews withstakeholders. The shocking revelation was the absence of any structured contingency plan with clear repartition of tasks. A complete chaos was observed in the emergency response and a multitude of private/small/local initiatives appeared here and there. Even the relief INGO who rushed to Lebanon complained of the absence of coordination, and ineffective exchange of information.
NDH-ALEF regrets the lack of transparency that characterized the performance of the government all through the crisis. This did not only affect the efficiency and the impact of the various relief efforts, but has also undermined the reputation of the Lebanese authorities vis-à-vis the international donors, the majority of whom insisted to pay directly the beneficiaries or to condition their aid by the creation of a special independent fund.
NDH-ALEF will deploy all efforts possible to make the best use of the reports; it will highlight the lessons learnt, pinpoint the shortcomings, and initiate dialogue amongst stakeholders. We are fully aware of our limited influence on the overall political/military developments; we believe however that the civil society is a corner stone in all efforts aiming at alleviating the impact of assaults on civilians.
NDH – ALEF considers these reports as a stone in the wall to defend Human dignity and Human values; together with other stakeholders … we will act for Human Rights.