Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LEBANON: Shattered Camp Revives Under Military Eyes

By Ray Smith

"NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon, Aug 25 (IPS) - Palestinian refugees at Nahr Al-Bared in North Lebanon are living under tight military siege two years after a war destroyed the refugee camp. It has now become a test case for a new approach in Lebanon's security policy towards Palestinian refugee camps.......

Since October 2007, more than half of Nahr Al-Bared's 30,000 residents have returned to the camp's outskirts. Mostly living in makeshift dwellings and in the ruins of their homes, the refugees are waiting for the camp to be rebuilt. After several delays, reconstruction work finally started at the end of June 2009.......

NGOs working in Nahr Al-Bared protested against the restrictions in a letter in January this year. Residents have voiced their opposition several times. Charlie Higgins, project manager for reconstruction of Nahr Al-Bared with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has demanded a review of army-controlled checkpoints.

But the Lebanese government does not intend to withdraw security forces from Nahr Al-Bared once the camp is rebuilt. The camp will be placed under Lebanese sovereignty, meaning that the Internal Security Forces (ISF) will be present inside Nahr Al-Bared........"

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