dimanche 13 août 2006

Scars of War (By David Snyder)

When the fighting in Lebanon ends, Rabiah Jouni will literally bear the scars of this conflict. Like nearly one million other people, Jouni was caught up in the war in the opening days of the conflict. When an Israeli bomb hit a neighbors house in his home town of Bent Jbail, Jouni and others rushed out to help. Jouni remembers little of what happened next.

“Another bomb came,” Jouni said. “Two people with me were killed.”

Badly wounded, Jouni barely escaped that fate himself. Taken to the hospital, where his damaged spleen was removed, Jouni was barely able to move as the war again caught up to him.

“The Red Cross took me to another hospital in Tyre,” Jouni said. “There was bombing, but we couldn’t do anything. They moved us all to the first floor.”

Finally, Jouni and the other patients were again evacuated, this time to a hospital further north. There, his father collected him and brought him to the relative safety of East Beirut, where today his scars are healing slowly. Too deeply imbedded to be removed, the shrapnel in his right shoulder will remain.

Jouni, like more than 600,000 of those now displaced by the war, is living with a host family. Conditions are far from ideal. On a noisy side street in the capital, Jouni and his wife of just two months share two small rooms with 45 other people. So cramped are the conditions that they have organized shifts for sleeping. Much of each day is spent outside, listening to the sounds of Israeli war planes targeting the southern suburbs of the city with air strikes.

And though his shoulder causes him pain, Jouni is among the lucky ones. He is receiving assistance through Caritas Lebanon, who provide he and the others in his family with food and other essential items – part of an effort thus far reaching more than 85,000 displaced people with humanitarian assistance.

Like many men here, Jouni was reluctant to be photographed, fearing the reach of Israeli war planes that nearly claimed his life. Back inside the dark interior of their two-room shelter, some female relatives watch over the newest addition to the family – a one-week old baby girl named Promise. If there is to be hope for the future of this conflict-prone region, it surely lies in the faces of this country’s youth – before the scars of war affect yet another generation of Lebanon’s children.