Video: Nahr al-Bared, “A Sip of Coffee”

15 June 2009

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In May 2007, the battle between the militant group Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army broke out in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Almost the entire camp was destroyed during the three months of heavy fighting and in the months following the battle when the the Lebanese army had complete control of the camp. Two years later, nearly all the rubble has been cleared from the “old camp,” the core of Nahr al-Bared. However, though the displaced residents grow increasingly desperate, reconstruction has yet to begin.

Not only does the Lebanese army keep residents away from the old camp, it also controls movement in and out of the surrounding area known as the “new camp.” Anyone entering the new camp requires a valid permit issued by the army. Refugees and non-governmental organizations working to revitalize the once robust economy of the camp face crippling isolation, as the marketplace of Nahr al-Bared is totally cut off from the surrounding villages. A flailing economy and soaring unemployment are only a few of the consequences of the destruction and ongoing siege of the camp.

This 26-minute film follows a father and his son as they attempt to deal with their unemployment. The two have been living in temporary metal shelters for more than a year, waiting to return to their camp. By documenting issues of reconstruction, temporary housing, economy, unemployment and despair, the film touches on the daily experience of life in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.

a-films is an anarchist film collective currently focusing its work on the destroyed Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Through workshops, the group aims to promote film-making as a tool for political struggles. The above video is available for downloading in high quality and translated into multiple languages at the a-films website.