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.
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.
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)resist.ca.