BEIRUT: A UN relief convoy carrying supplies was hit in renewed fighting Tuesday as it tried to enter the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared, a relief official said, adding that there may have been at least one casualty.
The official from the UN Relief and Works Agency said a pickup truck and a water tanker were caught between the lines of the Lebanese army and Fatah Islam fighters at the entrance of the camp.
Earlier, a UN relief convoy entered the refugee camp in northern Lebanon on Tuesday to deliver desperately needed aid after three days of deadly fighting. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) has managed to get four trucks carrying food, medicine and electricity generators into the camp, where there is mounting concern over the plight of civilians, a spokesman said. The announcement came shortly after Islamist guerrillas, who have been locked in ferocious gun battles with Lebanese troops, said they would observe a unilateral ceasefire. Meanwhile, Dr Yussef al-Assad, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent for northern Lebanon, said UNRWA would also evacuate a group of women and children caught up in the fighting. Assad, director of the hospital in the nearby Baddawi refugee camp, added that two Red Crescent ambulances carrying medical supplies and food had also entered the camp.
Relief agencies have warned of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished camp, where refugees have been trapped by the fighting and are suffering a lack of electricity as well as shortages of food, water and medical supplies. On Monday, UNRWA director Richard Cook said the fighting in and around the camp, which has left 65 people dead and scores wounded, was distressing.
We are deeply concerned about the developing humanitarian crisis, particularly the danger to civilian lives, he said in a statement about the squalid camp, located near the northern city of Tripoli.
Once a ceasefire is called, UNRWA will ensure essential care, food and water will be provided to the inhabitants of the camp as well as evacuating the injured and killed, he said.
The camp, with around 31,000 residents, is one of 12 in Lebanon.
The fighting, which broke out on Sunday, is the bloodiest internal feuding since the 1975-1990 civil war and has stoked fears it could spread to other Palestinian camps and further shake the fragile security of a country riven by sectarian and political tensions.