Islander from Masset trapped in Lebanon

  • Jul. 17, 2006 6:00 a.m.

There is at least one islander among the thousands of Canadians trapped in Lebanon this week, as fighting between Israel and Lebanon intensified.
Laura Holmes-Saltzman lives in Masset and teaches at Tahayghen elementary school. She headed to Lebanon for the summer to work as a volunteer in the Rashidieh refugee camp, where she managed to send a couple of email messages to her friends Andrew Merilees and Kimiko von Boetticher describing the situation.
On July 15, Ms Holmes-Saltzman wrote that she was trapped because all roads and bridges out of the area where she is working have been destroyed.
“Most of the foreigners have been evacuated from Lebanon, and all except four Norwegian women and myself are still left in Rashidieh refugee camp by the border where the fighting is worst,” she wrote in the e-mail. “The Norwegian embassy is talking about sending a helicopter for them, or if they can’t get a safe guarantee from Hezbollah and Israel, maybe a UN boat will take them to Cypress. They have invited me along, but I don’t know what to do. It’s hard to tell how much longer this will last, and very difficult to think about leaving when everyone else is here to endure all that may come. It’s not fair that a ‘good’ passport can lift some and not others away from this.”
On July 12, Ms Holmes-Saltzman said she was okay and planning to stay put, although her ears were ringing after a day of bombing and shooting from ground troops.
Canada began making plans earlier this week to rescue citizens trapped in Lebanon, with the Department of Foreign Affairs announcing on Monday that it had leased six ships from Cyprus. Ottawa was planning to take Canadians by ship from the Lebanese port of Beirut to Cyprus, and then send them home on commercial planes, starting mid-week.
On Sunday, seven Canadian citizens visiting Lebanon, all members of one Montreal family, were killed in the bombing of a village in southern Lebanon.