“I’m originally Palestinian, living in the southern village of Ghaziyeh,” says Aynaya. “It was about 9am and was working in my accounting office when a bomb hit a bridge next to our building. Everyone was suddenly screaming in panic, and I fainted. When I recovered, I went home where I lived with three brothers, my sister Abeera and her two children.
“Many shells were falling on Ghaziyeh so we decided we had to try to escape. The main road was blocked by rubble so we had to find another way out. We eventually escaped and drove all day until we reached Beirut.
“My children, six year-old Marwa and four-year-old Mahmoud, were so frightened that they stopped eating – they would only drink some water,” says Aynaya’s sister Abeera. They’ve lost weight and are very stressed. When they hear the explosions from the Israeli air raids here in Beirut, they curl up in fear.
“We’ve been here three weeks now. We just spend our days watching the news, and crying when we see so much death. So many people have lost their homes because of the bombardment - many can’t find their families. We need security, a solution to these problems.
Photo: Children Marwa and Mahmoud watching the news
“I’m worried about the effect of all this on the children. There’s nothing for them to do all day – it’s a big problem. He’s only four but Mahmoud listens to the television news and recently he told me, ‘Mummy, ten people were killed today – I saw it on the news.’ They’re very withdrawn these days.
“I’m afraid for the future,” says Abeera, tears filling her eyes. “Ghaziyeh was just a residential place, inhabited by civilians only but it is being destroyed. Yesterday, 17 people were killed in Ghaziyeh in the latest bombardment – two of them were my friends.”
(Minutes after Abeera spoke to Oxfam, news comes in that mourners at funerals for the Ghaziyeh victims have been bombed – 13 more people are killed.)