GENEVA—The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is trying to bring urgent aid to 20,000 Palestinians who stayed in a north Lebanon refugee camp despite fighting there, the humanitarian agency's head said on Thursday.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said a convoy of 11 trucks had left the Jordanian capital Amman carrying 220 tonnes of food for the refugees in Nahr al-Bared camp. It was due to arrive in northern Lebanon on Friday.
He said The ICRC has been in contact with all sides of the conflict since fighting broke out on Sunday between the Lebanese army and the al Qaeda-inspired militant group Fatah al-Islam.
"We remain extremely concerned about the security of up to 20,000 civilians who are still inside the camp and who need protection and assistance activities," Kellenberger told a news conference in Geneva.
At least 22 militants and 32 soldiers have been killed in the clashes—Lebanon's worst internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war. Lebanon says between 50 and 60 militants have been killed.
"I fear that the toll will be higher when we know the fate of civilians," Kellenberger said, noting the lack of access. "Medical supplies and water are always urgent in such cases."
In a statement, the ICRC said that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and Lebanese Red Cross had evacuated more than 80 wounded, including an unspecified number of civilians, 26 other medical cases and 35 corpses.
The camp's water and electricity systems have stopped functioning, but ICRC officials had been able to make a first delivery of some 17,000 litres of bottled drinking water earlier in the day, it said.
"A strong stench from garbage, and probably, from decomposing bodies fills the air," the ICRC said.
Kellenberger said: "We will do whatever we can to continue and increase protection activities."
The Swiss-based agency had already distributed some 20 tonnes of food to Beddawi camp, where about a third of the camp's residents had fled, according to the ICRC chief.
The ICRC statement said that it hoped to complete delivery of another 20 tonnes of ready-to-eat meals to Beddawi by the end of Thursday.