The war that wives and mothers can never win: When Lebanon bled like Bosnia, young people died and mothers grieved. Robert Fisk meets those whose pain knows no ceasefire

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Indy Lifestyle Online
IN LEBANON, the men generally did the dying and the women did the mourning. Most of the dead were killed in massacres and air raids and in the routine shelling of towns and cities, ethnically 'cleansed' as savagely as those now burning in Bosnia.

Westerners remember their handful of hostages in Beirut and forget that perhaps 30,000 Lebanese were kidnapped in the country's 15-year war; of these, 17,000 disappeared forever.

Outrages against women in Bosnia have only emphasised a cruel truth: war lasts longer for mothers and wives, whose sons and husbands - and

occasionally daughters - participate in conflict. Almost three years after the end of the civil war in Beirut, Lebanese women are still suffering the results of a tragedy that cost 150,000 lives. Many wait vainly for loved ones kidnapped almost a decade ago. Others cling to the desperate hope that dead sons may have survived. A few wait for daughters whom they know to be still alive.

As the death toll of the Balkan war approaches that of Lebanon's - at eight times the speed - the experiences of three Beirut mothers are a cruel reminder of the agony that continues long after the last shots have been fired.