Relief Efforts Accelerate as 25 000 Refugees Flee to Bourdj Hammoud

BEIRUT (Aztag)–Efforts by the committee to organize and execute relief efforts in Lebanon–established by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Lebanon Central Committee–went into high gear over the weekend–as the number of Lebanese refugees fleeing to Bourdj Hammoud has reached an estimated 25,000. Lebanese parliament member Hagop Pakradouni told the Aztag daily newspaper that the committee and city officials initially were estimating to provide relief and humanitarian assistance to 5,000–but by today’s numbers that number has gone up five times. Pakradouni was joined Saturday by Lebanon Prelate Bishop Gegham Khatcherian and Bourdj Hammoud mayor Antranig Musurlian to distribute aid and speak to refugees. Armenian community centers and schools have been transformed into supply centers–where volunteers from the Lebanese-Armenian community are hard at work preparing relief packages containing basic essentials for distribution to the refugees. With the influx of refugees–getting supplies and coordinating their distribution has become increasingly difficult. Pakradouni said public awareness is at a heightened state and the population of Bourdj Hammoud–unaffected from the Israeli bombings–has been spending day and night to ensure that their Lebanese brethren are properly cared for. Pakradouni also added that they continue to receive assistance and supplies from various Diaspora communities as Armenia’s are heeding the appeals by the Armenian Relief Society–Churches and other organizations. The parliament member said after an immediate cease-fire all these efforts would be better coordinated. The field at the Bourdj Hammoud City Hall has been converted into a refugee camp–where 60 tents have been erected to accommodate the quick flow of refugees. Bourdj Hammoud mayor Musurlian noted that a Swiss relief organization realized that a significant number of refugees have sought shelter in Bourdj Hammoud and shipped the tents and other supplies there. The mayor announced that the refugee camp is already operational–with its own kitchen–infirmary and other basic necessities. Musurlian also announced that the Bourdj Hammoud city government has adopted a coupon system–whereby–every other week–3,500 families will receive coupons for basic necessities such as food–hygiene products and toiletries. Musurlian added that the supplies were being delivered to Bourdj Hammoud from the Lebanese Relief Council–a government agency established to coordinate relief efforts after the bombings began. Prelate Bishop Khatcherian appealed to Diaspora Armenia’s to accelerate their efforts and take part in the Lebanese relief efforts.

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