Gunmen vacate Ain el-Helweh schools as joint force deploys
Gunmen withdrew Friday from the schools they were occupying in the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp, as a joint Palestinian force started deploying in the camp’s al-Taamir area.
The National News Agency said a “positive atmosphere” was engulfing the deployment process and that the Palestinian force was supposed to enter into the camp’s schools.
The schools had been occupied during days of deadly fighting between hardline Islamist groups and the mainstream Fatah Movement.
The occupation forced the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, to postpone the start of the school year.
“More than 11,000 Palestine Refugees children in South Lebanon will not be able to join their peers at the beginning of the school year on 2 October,” an UNRWA statement said.
“UNRWA was forced to take this decision given all our eight schools inside the camp have been taken over by armed groups. They have sustained significant destruction and damage. Other schools – outside the camp- are currently being used by displaced families,” said Dorothée Klaus, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon.
At least 4,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Ain el-Helweh. Many sought refuge in UNRWA facilities while others are staying with relatives and friends.
Meanwhile, UNRWA has been providing safe spaces and some education material for children and activities so they can have some learning and be able to reconnect with their childhood.