Electronic Lebanon

Video: Harvesting oranges in Burj al-Shemali


Early in the morning, between 5 and 6am, a wave of footsteps and whispering voices can be heard in the narrow alleys of the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp in southern Lebanon. It is in the darkness of the early morning hours that hundreds of Palestinian day laborers leave their homes, gather in the streets and head to work in the nearby fields and orchards. More than two-thirds of the camp’s labor force work at least part-time in agriculture. 

Migrant workers' children face discrimination


BEIRUT (IRIN) - Children of domestic workers in Lebanon are an invisible segment of society. Many of the estimated 200,000 migrant domestics living in Lebanon — most of them women from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia — have no legal status in the country. Their children born in Lebanon thus have no official identity, and no statistics on their numbers exist. 

Despair, trauma, discontent among Nahr al-Bared's impoverished Palestinians


NAHR AL-BARED (IRIN) - They look like cargo crates: long lines of prefabricated steel units, stacked two high, set on the edge of the ruined Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Inside each airless 18 square meter unit there is a toilet, gas burner and tatty mattresses on the bare wooden floor. 

"Incoherent" agreement spells the way forward


BEIRUT (IPS) - The Lebanese unity government has finally came to terms with its ministerial declaration after weeks of political haggling. What promises and threats does the incoherent declaration hold for Lebanon in a polarized local and regional context? “The ministerial declaration is an impossible document that carries many contradictions,” says Oussama Safa, director of the Lebanese Center for Political Studies, a local Lebanese think tank. 

Meet the Lebanese Press: Syria and the Salafis


Lebanese-Syrian relations witnessed a turnaround this month. The visit by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Damascus culminated in a declaration to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time. Promises were made to intensify efforts to resolve long-standing disputes around delineating the borders and uncovering the fate of dozens of Lebanese who disappeared during the civil war and are believed to be imprisoned in Syria. 

Displaced Allawis find little relief in impoverished north


HISA, AKKAR (IRIN) - They may have been uprooted “more than 40 times” over the years since Lebanon’s Civil War began in 1975, but Hussein Mohammed and his family say they have rarely felt as threatened as they do today. “When Israel did air strikes [in 2006] they dropped leaflets warning us to leave the village. These Salafis are trying to drive us out of the country,” said Mohammed, a member of the Allawi sect. 

Months after Qatar talks, fighting continues in northern Lebanon


TRIPOLI, LEBANON (IRIN) - A few hours after evacuating their bullet-riddled three bedroom flat on the street which divides Sunnis from Shia Allawis in Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood, Khaled Mansour and his new wife were woken by the sound of their front room exploding. “The rocket came through the window at dawn,” said the 23-year-old accountant with scraggly black beard and traditional white tunic, who had moved his veiled wife and mother into his uncle’s flat next door. 

The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal


The Israeli cabinet’s decision to strike a prisoner-exchange deal with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon — on the eve of the anniversary of the war between the two sides of 12 July-14 August 2006 — will not be remembered as one of Israel’s most glorious moments. Amal Saad-Ghorayeb looks at the short-term and long-term implications of the deal. 

Meet the Lebanese Press: Free at last!


The petty politics of forming a national “unity” government in Lebanon will be overshadowed this week by a development with local and regional implications. All Lebanese political prisoners still held in Israeli jails will return home. Five in total, including Samir Kuntar, the dean of Arab detainees, who has spent close to three decades of his life in captivity. With the return of prisoners, another chapter of Hizballah’s struggle against Israel has closed.