Two years after it was destroyed in the wake of fighting between the Lebanese army and a militant group, the fate of the Palestinian refugee camp, Nahr al-Bared remains unclear. Reconstruction of the official camp may start soon, but so far this has been delayed as the Lebanese army keeps a tight grip on the camp. Several checkpoints, barbed wire and military posts cut Nahr al-Bared off from its surroundings, making it difficult for the camp’s residents and visitors to come and go as they wish.
Nahr al-Bared refugee camp used to be a thriving marketplace in the northern Lebanese region of Akkar; about half of the consumers were Lebanese. After it declared victory of the Fatah al-Islam militant group, the Lebanese army held complete control over the camp. Homes and businesses were looted, smashed and burnt. The camp’s once flourishing economy was physically eliminated. Â
Today, about half the camp’s population has returned to an area adjacent to the camp. Hundreds of businesses have re-opened, but economic recovery is severely hampered by the tight siege imposed by the Lebanese army. Some camp residents have come to believe that the war’s actual target wasn’t Fatah al-Islam, but Nahr al-Bared’s economic life.
In this 10-minute film, the co-owner of an ice cream factory, the president of the local traders committee and the imam of the al-Quds Mosque, all Palestinian refugees, speak about the siege and its economic consequences.
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.