Photostory: Wavel Refugee Camp

Wavel is a Palestinian refugee camp located in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, on the outskirts of Baalbek. Originally a French military base during the colonial era, Palestinian refugees inhabited 12 military barracks shortly after the Palestinian el-Nakba (the Catastrophe) in 1948, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees were forced from Palestine through the creation of the state of Israel. One of Lebanon’s smallest and most impoverished refugee camps, Wavel receives limited attention from NGO’s and services directed toward camps such as located near major Lebanese centers such as Saida and Beirut.

In this photo Palestinian youth give the victory sign, among camp buildings covered in posters depicting Palestinian resistance icons.

An entrance of Wavel camp located off the highway leading to Baalbek. Note the particularly decrepit conditions of the camps buildings.

Today Wavel is home to approximately 8000 refugees, a significant segment of which continue to reside in the now dilapidated French barracks. Visiting the camp provides a haunting sense of history in Lebanon, with buildings representing the French colonial era now housing Palestinian refugees. The reality of the persecution which Palestinians in Lebanon face is striking when visiting the camp, due to the overt poverty of the camp residents and crumbling infrastructure throughout the camp.

One of the main French barracks which was converted into housing for Palestinian refugees. Until today the French military buildings have not received any major repairs since 1948 and are in increasingly decrepit conditions.

Children look down from the main French military barrack flashing victory signs in the afternoon sun.

A Palestinian woman inside of her families one room home, within the former French military barrack. In this particular room 12 people live, children, parents and grandparents.

In this photo to the right is the major soccer playing filed for the youth of the camp, while in the background pictured are Lebanon’s mountains in the arid Bekaa Valley.

To view an extended photo essay on Wavel Camp from the Independent Media Center of Beirut visit Indymedia Quebec.

Stefan Christoff is currently in Lebanon as Electronic Intifada’s Special Correspondent, reporting on present-day struggles for social justice. Stefan is a member of the International Solidarity Movement and also is active with Indymedia Beirut. You can contact Stefan at: christoff(at)