This is the second part of a two-part photo-essay depicting the life of Palestine refugees in Lebanon’s refugee camps. The photographs in this essay are all from the temporary shelters in the areas adjacent to Nahr el-Bared camp and were taken in late September 2010.
Fierce fighting broke out in Nahr el-Bared on 20 May 2007 between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Fatah al Islam group inside the camp. Three months of siege and massive aerial and artillery bombardment left the camp in ruins. Schools, health clinics and relief services offices in the UNRWA compound were also destroyed. All 27,000 refugees fled the camp, mostly to the adjacent areas and neighbouring Beddawi camp. The majority of them left with few or no belongings, thinking they would come back after a few days. Overnight, they lost everything – their homes, personal and household belongings, commercial property and assets, and jobs. A close-knit and once-relatively thriving community was suddenly thrown into impoverishment and protracted displacement – many for the second time in their lives.
Once the extent of the damage became apparent, UNRWA signed a memorandum of understanding with the refugee-based Nahr el-Bared Reconstruction Commission for Civil Action and Studies (NBRC) to jointly agree on the design work for the reconstruction of the camp. It was agreed that this reconstruction would be carried out in eight packages, due to funding constraints. This impressive model in civic participation resulted in the approval of a final master plan approved by the government of Lebanon in May 2009. Reconstruction itself began in June 2009.
Over 7,700 displaced refugees (as of July 2010) are still living in Beddawi camp and its surrounding areas.
UNRWA continues to provide adequate (temporary) shelter for some 25,000 displaced Palestinians until their homes are reconstructed, including providing education for 611 students.
As of October 2010, out of the eight construction packages in Nahr el-Bared, the Agency has started the reconstruction of packages 1 and 2, and three schools in the UNRWA compound. The major constraint to the reconstruction of the camp is the lack of funding. Out of a total of US$ 328 million required to rebuild the camp, to date only 36 per cent has been secured. There is an urgent need for US$ 10 million to start work on Package 3 and US$ 34.1 million for Package 4. To date, the major donors for the reconstruction include the USA, the Saudi Fund for Development, the European Union and the OPEC Fund for International Development.