Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The "humanitarian" sidelining of Nahr al-Bared

Ray Smith, Electronic Lebanon, 8 April 2008

"A 5 April 2008 television report by Al Jazeera English from the destroyed Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon characterizes the media's sidelining of the Nahr al-Bared story as a purely humanitarian question rather than one with a political dimension. [1] Since the battle between the Lebanese army and the militant Islamist group moved from the streets of Tripoli to Nahr al-Bared camp about this time last year, the media have mainly only reported on the military strife between the army and the Islamist group. On the rare occasions the media have covered the situation of the camp's more than 30,000 Palestinian inhabitants who fled the camp during the fighting, they have done so with only a narrow focus on the humanitarian problems they face -- ignoring the glaring political questions that only the camp residents seem to be left asking.......

Through reports like these which limit their coverage to the humanitarian situation in the camp, Al Jazeera English and other mainstream media fail to report the full extent of the problems faced by Palestinians in Nahr al-Bared. Instead of engaging in critical inquiry, such reports merely accept and repeat the Lebanese government's and army's official version of what happened and continues to happen in the refugee camp. This, of course, is to the disadvantage of the 30,000 Palestinian refugees who once again find themselves homeless, robbed, humiliated and oppressed. What's more, if the situation of Nahr al-Bared is left unquestioned, it lends itself to being repeated in one of the other numerous refugee camps in Lebanon."

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