24/07/06 

It’s the start of my second week in Cyprus.

Last week the island started to strain under the weight of the exodus from Lebanon.

By Friday over 12000 evacuees had already arrived and the authorities said that as many as 70000 were expected to pass through Cypriot seaports.

As refugee numbers have been added to by hundreds of journalists and TV crews, accomodation in Larnaca and Limassol is scarce, and humanitarian agencies have begun spreading people out to other parts of the island such as Pafos.

In Nicosia the US Embassy has rented 2000 square feet of empty exhibition space at the State Fair grounds and has established a makeshift transit camp there to process thousands of Americans who have fled the bombing.

There are many heartbreaking stories circulating about what is happening just 140 kms across the med. in Southern Lebanon.

Nathakie Malhame was brought up in Cyprus and now lives in Beirut.

She sent an email to the Cyprus Weekly newspaper.

“Here in Lebanon, the atmosphere is grim and sad. The airport has been bombed many times, there is a sea and air blockade, the Syrian border has been bombed, we cannot leave the country easily, if at all.

Bridges, oil stations, the airport, entire villages (Haret, hreik, Chtaura, Saida, Tyre, Dahiye, Kfarshima…) and most of our infrastructure has been targeted and destroyed.

We can rebuild our infrastructure. We have done it before and we can do it again… But what about the innocent lives that have been lost? The eight Lebanese Canadians, the twelve members of a family trying to leave their village, the four Brazilians, and the other hundreds (and still counting) of lives that have been taken.

Their lives cannot be rebuilt… lives taken without a second thought. So far only innocent lives have been taken. Children have not been spared. Friends frleeing through the Syrian borders had to see the bodies of children and babies being pushed away in a trolley. These images will stay with them for life.

Bombs fall and rockets hit one after the other. We are afraid to sleep. We have no shelters, only the garages of our buildings. How safe are they? You tell me.

Is my friend stuck in Saida safe? Those supposed flyers that fall out of the Israeli planes to warn villagers to flee their villages fall at most, 60 minutes before these villages are wiped away. How much time does that give people to run away? What about the people who cannot read or the tourists or second or third generation returnees who cannot read Arabic?

And how can they run away if all the roads and bridges have been destroyed? You tell me.

No… Hezbollah should not have kidnapped those two Israeli soldiers. They did that without the Lebanese population’s or the government’s knowledge.

But that does not give the Israeli Army the right to destroy entire villages and take away innocent lives… They did not even try to negotiate.

This conflict has gone beyond the capture of the soldiers. It has spilled over, way over into the danger zone.

Do we really want to see the start of World War III?

Tell me, is that what you want?

Do we really want to ignore the value of human life?

Day by day more tears and blood are spilt, on all sides. In Haifa, in Gaza, in Beirut, in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon and let’s not forget Iraq.

What for? What for? Please tell me what for.

I stand up and calmly cry out with dignity and love for humanity: No. No more violence. No more violence. Please people of all nations… Stand up and say no.

Tell me that you will not stanf idly by, tell me that you will not close your eyes. Tell me you will raise your voice of peace… now, before more human lives are lost.

Thank you for listening, from Lebanon with tears.”

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