News / Middle East

Palestinians in Lebanon Hold Little Hope for Reconstruction

Three years after the war between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam has ended, most of the Nahr el-Bared camp remains in ruins, 05 Nov 2010
Three years after the war between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam has ended, most of the Nahr el-Bared camp remains in ruins, 05 Nov 2010
Heather Murdock

They call the temporary housing "barracks" or "containers."  Some of the two-story blocks of rooms are made of concrete, and they are decorated.  Others are made of tin.

For more than three years, about 10,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been living in the barracks, after their camp was destroyed in a three-month-long battle between the Lebanese Army and an Islamic militant group known as Fatah al-Islam.

“This house is for animals,” said Ahmed Abueid, as he poked his head into a single metal room that houses six Palestinian refugees on the outskirts of the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon.   “Animals cannot live like this.  We want to go to our houses in old camp.  Quickly."

Abueid is one of about 30,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon displaced by the war that left 400 people dead and the camp demolished.  Most of the camp's buildings are still heaps of gray rubble, riddled with bullet holes.

Abueid said he was promised a new home after his building was flattened in 2007, but now has little hope that the camp will be rebuilt.

Families say in the over-crowded temporary housing, their children are often sick.
Families say in the over-crowded temporary housing, their children are often sick.

In the barracks, displaced families say they rely on the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency for small amounts of food and medicine.  In neighboring towns, displaced families receive $150 a month to help pay the rent.

But the United Nations says the families may be cut off in the next few months for lack of funding.  The agency has not been able to raise any of the $18 million needed to sustain these basic services in 2011.

Agency spokesperson Hoda Samra Souaiby said if help does not arrive soon, families will stop receiving aid before the end of the year.

"If the funding does not come,” she said, “more than 3,400 families would be left without rental subsidies, of course, and the whole relief operations will have to stop.  But I do not think we will reach this stage, and I certainly hope that we would not reach this stage."

The reconstruction process has long been marred by delays and lack of funding.  The United Nations says it has only enough money to rebuild about 25 percent of the camp.

Souaiby said there is no way of knowing when more of the camp might be completed, because the agency still needs $209 million for the project.  

"Previous camps that have been destroyed in Lebanon were never rebuilt,” she added.  “This in itself is a challenge.  It is the reconstruction of a whole city, a whole town."

Nancy's mother says her temporary apartment is infested with mice or rats. When she was 2-years-old, Nancy was bitten several times in the face.
Nancy's mother says her temporary apartment is infested with mice or rats. When she was 2-years-old, Nancy was bitten several times in the face.

The apartments in the barracks are cramped, leaky and sometimes infested with mice and bugs.  Teenage girls are sometimes forced to share rooms with their brothers, which is considered shameful by many Palestinians.  They say the food, medicine and small cash subsidies they receive from the United Nations are not nearly enough, and work is scarce.

Those who do find jobs with construction companies rebuilding the camp say the pay is low, and often late.

Mahmoud Getawi is a displaced refugee, working on reconstruction of the camp.  He often has to wait weeks for payments.  When he asked the company why, his supervisors blamed international donors who pledged funds but have not yet delivered it.  Construction is often halted when the companies do not have money.

Getawi said he thinks his new home might be finished when his children, one of which is unborn, are adults.

“Maybe they will be for my children,” he said, laughing.  “Not for me.”

The United Nations estimates as many as 60 percent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are un-employed or underemployed.  Even though there are several generations of Palestinians living in Lebanon, they are considered foreigners and need special permits to work.  They are banned from working in many professions, like medicine, engineering, and law.  They cannot buy or inherit property.

Wafa Abdulla Abuaudi said three years ago, after the war, international organizations provided enough food for the refugees to survive.

“After one year, they stopped,” she said, huddled in a concrete doorway in one of the barracks.

Now, every three months she gets enough food to feed her family for two weeks and has no hope that she will ever move into a new house in the camp.  The first buildings might get finished, she said, but after that, the money will be gone, and the international community will forget about Nahr el-Bared.

Other women who were born and raised in the Nahr el-Bared camp, and have never been to Palestine, joked about the reconstruction. "We'll get to move back to Palestine,” one woman said, “before we are able to move into those houses.”

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs