Lebanon's Humanitarian Crisis Growing

BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 21, 2006 — -- The Israeli air strikes on Lebanon have flattened entire neighborhoods, killing more than 330 people and leaving another half a million homeless.

Anything that looks like it could be of use to the enemy is a potential target in the region where a humanitarian crisis of major proportions is growing.

In the southern city of Tyre, Israel's bombers are so relentless it's not safe to give the dead a proper burial. Today local residents put 84 corpses into a mass grave, before rushing inside for cover.

Israel is dropping leaflets all along the border, telling 400,000 Lebanese villagers to get out. But many have ignored that advice -- fearing worse on the roads. Others refuse to leave their homes out of principle.

One man told us, "We will not surrender to psychological warfare," while tearing up the leaflet.

But thousands of Lebanese are fleeing north, and among the roughly 550,000 now homeless, half are children.

Deliveries to Region Challenged

The UN is warning that the situation is deteriorating quickly and getting relief supplies where they're needed most is difficult and dangerous. Israel has shattered much of the infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and also gas stations, power lines, factories and farms.

One warehouse just south of Beirut airport was still smoldering when we visited today. It's a Proctor and Gamble warehouse housing canned goods, soap and shampoo -- all of which now sit scattered in the ruins.

Israel is also targeting trucks crossing over from Syria on the grounds they might contain munitions. A shipment that used to cost $250 to have delivered can now command five times that price. Demand is high and willing drivers are scarce.

"Today I took the minivan, because I was afraid my larger truck would get shot at," said one driver.

That means prices for goods are higher too, at a time when civilians can least afford it.