PM OKs Lebanon humanitarian corridor

Australia pledges $2 million in aid to victims of Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

lebanon evacuee 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
lebanon evacuee 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni approved late Thursday the establishment of a "humanitarian corridor" between Lebanon and Cyprus in order to relieve the humanitarian crisis that was claimed to be present in Lebanon. Israel has been under great international pressure, especially by the United States and France, to provide for the relief of the Lebanese citizens' hardships following the massive campaign that has created a lot of damage in Lebanon. UN sources stated that the fighting in Lebanon had created half a million refugees, who were forced to leave their homes to evade IDF strikes. Meanwhile, Australia on Friday pledged 2.5 million Australian dollars (US$1.9 million) in humanitarian aid to victims of the bloody conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Australia's federal aid agency, Ausaid, said A$2 million (US$1.5 million) would be distributed to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Lebanon. "The Australian assistance will enable the Lebanon Red Cross Society to meet the immediate needs of thousands of affected civilians with food and water, medical supplies, shelter and hygiene kits," Ausaid said in a statement. The remaining A$500,000 (US$375,000) was earmarked for victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks in Israel, the agency said, to "provide essential medical, shelter and other humanitarian needs." Also on Friday, some 500 Canadians who were evacuated from Lebanon arrived at a Mediterranean Turkish port, the Canadian Embassy said. The first group of Canadian evacuees arrived in the port of Mersin by ship late Thursday and were flown home from the nearby city of Adana, the embassy said. So far, more than 700 Canadians have arrived in Turkey from Lebanon. Some 4,000 Canadians were expected to cross through Turkey as Canada tried to evacuate some 30,000 Canadian-Lebanese. Turkish doctors on Thursday treated a Canadian woman for shrapnel wounds and a 71-year-old Canadian woman who had a heart problem, Canadian diplomats in Mersin said. Both women were well enough to travel back to Canada by plane. Doctors treated five other Canadians who fell sick during the sea voyage Friday, but they were also reported to be in good condition. The second group of Canadians was also taken to Adana to fly to Canada later. The group was to be taken to a sports center, which was serving as a temporary shelter in Adana, before the flight. About 20 US citizens also arrived in Mersin late Thursday on the same ship, the private Dogan news agency reported. They were also expected to fly home from Adana. More than 400 Swedes also arrived in Mersin earlier this week, Dogan agency said. More than 1,000 Turkish citizens have been evacuated or have fled Lebanon so far.