Lebanon security situation under control despite travel alerts, officials say

Several Gulf states have advised against visiting the country amid violence at the Ain Al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp

Violent clashes at Ain Al Hilweh camp in Lebanon end brief ceasefire

Violent clashes at Ain Al Hilweh camp in Lebanon end brief ceasefire
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Senior Lebanese officials have sought to reassure people that the security situation is under control after a number of countries issued travel warnings to their citizens amid fighting in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said on Monday that there was currently no evidence that the conflict in Ain Al Hilweh would spread outside the camp. He said the situation in the camp had calmed down and that efforts to arrest the perpetrators of the violence were continuing.

Ain Al Hilweh, believed to house around 80,000 people, is situated close to the city of Saida in the country's south.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said at the weekend that he had spoken with top security officials who, he said, felt that the situation “does not call for concern or panic,” while adding that there had been “significant progress” in stopping the violence.

Elsewhere, two of Lebanon's most influential political figures said they “do not understand” the travel warnings issued by some embassies.

“We do not understand … the fears expressed in the embassies' press releases,” Walid Joumblatt, leading figure in Lebanon's Druze community, said after meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

At least 13 people have been killed since fighting broke out between Fatah and more hardline factions in the camp at the end of July. A ceasefire has repeatedly been broken.

Conflict is common in Ain Al Hilweh, but the recent violence has been particularly severe with around a quarter of the camp's residents having been displaced. Occasionally, bullets have strayed outside the camp.

The Lebanese Armed Forces normally does not enter the camps as part of a long-time agreement with Palestinian security.

In the last few days both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon and avoid areas where clashes have taken place.

On Sunday the UAE advised its citizens not to travel to Lebanon, while other counties have also updated their travel advice.

Mr Mikati previously hinted that the army could be deployed if the situation escalates. During a phone call with Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, he said the army would “play the required role” in ending the clashes.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 5:03 PM