Magazine article New Internationalist

Seen, Killed and Unheard

Magazine article New Internationalist

Seen, Killed and Unheard

Article excerpt

Blood-stained rescue workers, crumbling bombed-out buildings and human misery have become an everyday scene for children in Beirut, who had normal teenage lives before the war began. But how often do we hear their voices? Despite resistance from officials of Amal (a Shi'a movement that is distinct from Hizbullah), two young reporters, Fayyaz and Becky (both 17 years old) from the news agency Children's Express, managed to speak to five young people under siege in July. This is their story...

Ali

Ali, 16, lived with his parents in Nabatieh, just outside Beirut. He was forced to move as his home was bombed by Israelis. He now lives in an old cinema with his family and hundreds of others taking refuge there. It's being used as a temporary refugee centre.

'Before the bombings, during summer the beaches were full. I really enjoyed going out and swimming in the sea. Now it is chaos with bombs going off everywhere. We got in a car and put a white flag on it to indicate we were trying to leave the area. We tried to go to my aunt's house which is in a safer area; however, there were just top many refugees heading the same way, we couldn't get in. So we found the only place that would take us - the cinema. Everyone in my family who couldn't escape has come together in two houses. My friend now lives in a house with 50 people.

'Yesterday there were planes flying so low they scared people. They are supposed to be targeting military sites, but they are targeting civilians. I don't feel safe here. The area we fled from seems safer. Yesterday was the worst day. It was really scary. My neighbour's building got bombed. Rescue workers and the Red Cross came to save people but the bombing continued and killed the people who were trying to help. My neighbour got killed. We are not military targets, so why bomb us?

'I spend all day in the cinema and half an hour outside to get fresh air. NGOs bring food once or twice a day. The only thing we can do is sit and wait for food. I have no control over my life. When you have seen relatives lose their homes or die, and their cars, their lives and their possessions go, the memory stays with you. I can't forget or go back to normal.

'I blame the Israelis; they were planning to do it anyway, they just needed an excuse. Israel has attacked Lebanon, but at least with Hezbollah there is resistance to protect our dignity. If Israel are going to fight, they should make it military against military and stop bombing civilians and civilian areas, because in Lebanon now it's only civilians who suffer.'

Zainab and Fatma

Zainab, 15, and Fatma, 13, are cousins, forced to flee the bombs falling on their village in South Lebanon. They used to study and meet friends at internet cafés, but now they live in an old cinema and spend hours driving around dodging Israeli bombs.

'We had to move to a neighbouring village when the Israelis were bombing ours. My uncle, who lives in Beirut, told us all to leave because Israel could target any southern village at any time. He came in his car and took us to Beirut. As we left we heard the bombings, and saw the village destroyed.

'My friends and family have all been separated because of the bombings. Some of my friends went to the mountains and some went to another neighbourhood.

'Every day it's the same thing. We wake up, have breakfast, and watch cartoons because it's the only thing to do in the cinema. We watch for an hour or two, but we get bored. We can't leave the building, but we sit outside for a while and go back in. …

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