Trying to survive the fighting in Lebanon
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2006:
BERUIT–The young Lebanese humane movement is struggling to
avoid becoming a collateral casualty of the July 12 Israeli invasion
of Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah militia members, who raided
Israel earlier in the day.
“I just came back from two weeks in Lebanon, and by chance
left just two hours before the airport was destroyed,” Kenya-based
wildlife trafficking investigator Jason Mier e-mailed to ANIMAL
Mier has worked closely since January 2006 with Beirut for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals to arrange rescues of illegally
obtained and exhibited nonhuman primates.
“I am speaking to BETA twice a day by phone,” Mier said.
“Even when the bombs were falling near [BETA cofounder] Joelle Kanaan’s house the other night she was still on the phone to
me worrying what could be done for the primates,” testified Graham
Garen of the Cefn-Yr-Erw Primate Rescue Sanctuary in Wales.
“Lebanon is now at war,” affirmed emergency appeals from
Kanaan and fellow co-founder Marguerite Shaarawai. “We are
effectively cut off from the world. The necessary goods to care for
our animals are becoming difficult to find. What is available is
becoming expensive due to scarcity. With the country shut down, our
in-country fundraising has been forced to stop.
“Our dog shelter is located on the border of Dahye, the area
that is being bombed the most,” Shaarawai and Kanaan said. “The
shelter is in sustained danger.”
BETA hoped to relocate the 130 dogs in their care to boarding
kennels outside Beirut, but found that all accessible boarding
kennel space was filled with the pets of people who had fled Lebanon
during lulls in the fighting.
“Things are getting worse and worse each hour if not each
minute,” Kanaan updated on July 17. “Bombs are falling closer to
the shelter. All the dogs are terrified and going crazy and getting
sick from fear. As I’m writing to you, some of the BETA girls are
under the bombs at the shelter with the dogs.”
BETA houses about 100 cats, divided between two locations.
The cat shelters were reportedly safe, but getting to them to look
after the cats was increasingly risky.
“Trips to our cat shelters take us through a large part of
Beirut,” explained Shaarawai and Kanaan. “Attacks continue making
this more difficult and dangerous,” as several bridges along the
route were blown up, temporarily stranding some BETA volunteers away
from their families.
BETA was formed in 2004 through the collaboration of
Shaarawai, Kanaan, Hania Jurdak, Katia Sleiman, and Sylvie La
Voie, who had all been working independently, assisted by Beirut
veterinarian Ali Hemadeh.