They called it a second nakba (catastrophe). “The first one in 1948 was a black and white nakba, it was easy to know who our enemies were. This one is more colorful.” This is how Palestinian refugees from Nahr al-Bared camp described their flight to Badawi refugee camp, about twenty kilometers away. Their escape, as with their experience under fire in the Nahr al-Bared camp, was traumatizing. Not only did they escape Fatah al-Islam sniper fire and the Lebanese army’s heavy artillery shelling, they also encountered a third group along the way, a militia group they identified as a local, Tripoli Sunni group which seems to have been operating inside Nahr al-Bared camp as well.
The road to Nahr al-Bared was a difficult one. For those who traveled on busses to Badawi camp they found their children taken off and assassinated by this militia group. For others they found themselves cramped into a refugee camp far smaller than their own and the new arrivals doubled the population of Badawi camp which previously held 18,000. The upsurge in population happened so suddenly that aid agencies have not had time to coordinate aid relief distribution. About 75 percent of the Nahr al Bared refugees who arrived in Badawi camp are living in peoples’ homes — sometimes adding an extra 20-30 people into an already extraordinarily small space. The other 25 percent are camped out in various schools throughout the camp. But NGOs have primarily been distributing aid among the people in the schools; 80 percent of the aid is going to the people in the schools even though this only gets at a small percentage of the population in need.
In order to remedy the situation a group, Nahr al-Bared Relief Campaign has formed to organize itself on behalf of those not getting NGO aid. Our group, made up of students, professors, and activists is working through the civil society organization League of Al Awda, which is a composite group of twenty-three various groups. Our grassroots effort with only two days work has brought much needed medicine, food, and diapers to people fleeing intense violence and trauma in Nahr al-Bared Camp. A variety of materials are being requested by the new refugees including: milk, diapers, women’s sanitary napkins, pillows, mattresses, sheets, soap, towels, toothpaste, loofah, plates, glasses, utensils, house cleaning supplies, clothes, garbage bags.
For more information please email Marcy Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org.