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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Ghada Mitri answers readers' questions
Ghada Mitri
Ghada Mitri works as a volunteer for the Lebanese Red Cross
Ghada Mitri was on a visit to Lebanon from the UK to look after her elderly parents when the country came under attack.

Despite being able to return back home to safety, she decided to stay and try to help Lebanese people caught up in a desperate situation.

She answers your questions below.


Carmen Urda, Bogota, Colombia: Hi Ghada, I do really admire you for your bravery, but I would like to know why are you doing it? Why don't you ask for help from the British government?

Ghada Mitri: Dear Carmen, I am no braver than the thousands who have had to abandon their homes in the south of Lebanon to seek shelter in schools hastily turned into refuge centres.

My parents are ok so far, but it's not possible to get them out right now. My father is ill, he is diabetic and has a severe heart condition. His body is fragile and I don't want to think about what he would have to go through during evacuation.

I talked it over with them, and they choose to stay. So I stay with them. I have the freedom of choice, but I cry for the Lebanese who do not have options.

Neelakantha, Nepal: Dear Ghada, you as an individual are doing all these things, but what steps have been taken by the authorities?

Ghada Mitri: Dear Neelakantha of Nepal, You probably do not hear all the stories of acts of bravery happening here. There are foreigners and Lebanese of dual nationalities providing comfort all over the country. Not to mention the Lebanese community in areas that have not been bombed yet, opening up their homes to the evacuees from the South.

Every time a Lebanese civilian is killed - I feel that my family has been violated.
Ghada Mitri
There are non-governmental organisations and societies and a lot of political parties opening shelters all over the country to help the internally displaced people escaping from the South.

The government here is a new government which was just finding its feet. It is being tested in the worst possible way. It turned the schools of Lebanon into temporary shelters to house the 60,000 displaced people who have lost their homes. The Lebanese army is trying to rebuild some of the roads and to rescue the families under siege in the South.

Mal Little, England: Hi Ghada, what do you feel Tony Blair should be doing? Do you think the silence of the world has lost your respect of the worldwide leaders?

Ghada Mitri: Dear Mal, I feel that Tony Blair should develop a conscience. I feel that he should be standing on his own two feet and not blindly copying USA's foreign policy.

He is not even listening to his people, to the thousands that marched against the war in Iraq, and to the thousands that marched against the war in Lebanon. It boggles the mind how blind the so called political leaders of the world are.

You ask about the silence of the world. The people are not silent. They are crying all over the world, in Hong Kong, In Paris, in London, in Australia and in Israel itself. But the leaders have suddenly gone deaf.

Every time a Lebanese civilian is killed - I feel that my family has been violated.

Xiao, UK: Do people feel desperate in Beirut? What do they make of Israeli actions? How about the children in Beirut? Have all the schools closed?

Ghada Mitri: Hello from Lebanon. Desperate isn't the word I would have used. Angry, yes. Betrayed is another word. Worried is yet another. Lebanon, the South and Beirut have seen a lot. The Lebanese are hardy folk. They have a strong belief that this will pass. But even if it does, they will not forget.

Israel has created a lot of hate in the hearts of the young generation of Lebanon, and vindicated the older generations who still remember the past. This young generation born after the war would probably have had a different point of view towards Israel than its elders. But in one fell swoop - Israel has destroyed that.

As for the children of Beirut - they are now living the experiences of their parents. Parents who had thought that the war was over. May you never hear the sound of babies waking up and screaming from fear.

School term had just ended, so the school year was not disrupted. But don't ask me about September when schools reopen. I cannot answer you when I do not know what the future will bring.






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