Photo: From a recent trip to Nahr el Bared refugee camp

Bomb-damaged building in Nahr el Bared

(Apologies for poor quality- taken on a slightly shonky cameraphone)

This photo was taken on a recent work visit to Nahr el Bared camp, most of which was destroyed or severely damaged during the Nahr el Bared conflict of 2007, when the Lebanese Army fought militant group Fatah al Islam in a three-month siege. The fighting killed 52 civilians, along with 226 Fatah al-Islam militants and 168 Lebanese soldiers. Some 27,000 refugees were displaced by the crisis (mostly to here in Beddawi, some to Tripoli and other locations), and many of these have still been unable to return five years on. Of those who have returned, many either live in cramped temporary accommodation blocks (think rows of shipping containers, each containing a family and stacked two-high, with a cramped, dark alleyway down the middle) or among the ruins themselves. It’s not uncommon to see a washing line with kids’ clothes hung up over a shrapnel-damaged wall, or children playing in the rubble.

The camp is still under the control of the Lebanese army, so taking lots of photos is not very welcome, but the shot above shows one of severely damaged buildings with families living in the partial-ruins. By chance, UNRWA have a photo of the same building (from the same angle) taken in 2009 on their website. Comparing the two, you can see some of the reconstruction work – breezeblocks to patch up the broken walls, new columns put in – though I’m not sure whether this is official reconstruction or informal work by the residents themselves. Either way, progress is slow right across the camp, largely due to a lack of resources.

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