Local MPs family stranded in Lebanon

Lismore MP Thomas George (left). Above: Thomass 86-year-old father Ned with his sister, 104-year-old Jamiel, at a family reunion in Lebanon early this month. While some of the George family left the country before fighting erupted, others remain in a northern village, uncertain how to get home safely.

Lismore MP Thomas George is worried for the safety of relatives who remain in Lebanon after gathering for a family reunion earlier this month.

Mr George and his father Ned George, along with other family members Raymond and Robyn George, Esther Mason and Barbara Findlay, returned home to Australia just 24 hours before hostilities erupted between Hezbollah guerillas and neighbouring Israel.

They had been visiting the George familys ancestral home in the Christian north of Lebanon for a reunion with Mr Georges 104-year-old aunty.

I only stayed for four days, Mr George said. Fortunately the others flew out the day before the fighting broke out, but Dads nephew and a few other people from Australia are still there. They feel safe enough in the northern part of the country, but are very apprehensive about travelling.

Mr Georges cousin Michael Gittany and his wife and daughter remain in Lebanon, about 90 minutes drive from Beiruit, and for now plan to stay put.

The fact that I was there last week makes me realise how close the fighting is to my family, Mr George said. Michael is not prepared to put his family at risk by putting them in a car and driving.

Mr George said news of the conflict was very distressing.

No-one likes any wars, he said. I hope and pray they will reach a peace treaty, but with the parties involved I dont know how that will happen. The loss of civilian life and destruction of infrastructure is terrible the country is still recovering from the last conflict in the 1980s.

Mr George said Beiruit still bore the scars of that crisis.

The country was once known as the Mecca of the north and was only just clawing its way back to normality.

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