Ray Smith

A voice of frustration and hope in Nahr al-Bared

NAHR AL-BARED (North Lebanon) (IPS) - The hip-hop beats ringing through the muddy, unlit streets of this burnt-out Palestinian refugee camp seem incongruous. But the rhymes are camp-grown — and courageous. Farhan Abu Siyam, 21, is Nahr al-Bared’s first and only rapper. Going by the name of MC Tamarrod, he grew up in the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr al-Bared and Burj al-Barajne. 

Refugees remain skeptical of Nahr al-Bared reconstruction

NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (IPS) - More than two years after their refugee camp was destroyed in a war between the Lebanese army and the Islamist militant group Fatah al-Islam, Nahr al-Bared refugees Wednesday witnessed the start of the camp’s reconstruction. Their relief is mixed with skepticism, however. Established in 1949, the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon’s Akkar region has become home to more than 30,000 residents. 

Nahr al-Bared reconstruction delays protested

Since the end of August, construction equipment in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, near the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, has stood unused after the Lebanese State Council granted a two month moratorium for the reconstruction of the camp. Nahr al-Bared, home to approximately 30,000 refugees, was destroyed during a three-month-long battle between the Lebanese army and the militant group Fatah al-Islam in the summer of 2007. Ray Smith reports for Electronic Lebanon. 

Nahr al-Bared's future remains unclear as army holds on to neighborhoods

The three-month-long war between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam militants in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon ended on 2 September 2007. While the Lebanese army has allowed displaced residents to return to some parts of the camp, the fate of other parts of the camp still under the army’s control remains unclear. Ray Smith reports for Electronic Lebanon. 

No work in Nahr al-Bared camp

Mohammad and Mahmoud sat on an idle field on the edge of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon. While Mahmoud sang to the songs being played on his mobile phone, Mohammad used his for gaming. Mohammad looked up and explained, “We spend our days doing nothing. We get up and sit at the cafe for a few hours. Then we go home and pray. We gather again and return to the cafe. There we sit until the evening. Every day passes like this.” Ray Smith reports on the dire economic conditions in Nahr al-Bared. 

Two years later, no reconstruction in Nahr al-Bared

About two years ago, a battle broke out between the Lebanese army and the militant group Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon. The summer-long battle concluded in September 2007 and the camp was totally destroyed — the rubble indicating that the destruction was systematic, most likely committed by the Lebanese army. After several delays, the UN-mandated core of the camp, the so-called “old camp,” has meanwhile been cleared of approximately 600,000 meters of rubble. Yet, reconstruction hasn’t begun and residents are still unable to enter the old camp, the access of which is controlled by the Lebanese army, and displaced refugees are increasingly resentful. Ray Smith reports. 

Uncertainty clouds Nahr al-Bared's future

One year has passed since the first Palestinians were allowed to return to the outskirts of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, destroyed by the Lebanese army during three months of fighting in the summer of 2007 with Fatah al-Islam, a small Islamist militant group. Meanwhile, up to 15,000 people have resettled in the camp. Ray Smith reports on their situation from Nahr al-Bared. 

Picking oranges the Palestinian way

Burj al-Shemali is located at the edge of Tyre and was established in the early 1950s after Zionist forces expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. Today some 20,000 people live in the quiet, but fenced-in Burj al-Shemali Camp. More than two-thirds of its labor force work at least part-time in agriculture. Ray Smith writes from southern Lebanon. 

Nahr al-Bared: more questions than answers

One year ago, on 20 May 2007, the fighting began between the Lebanese army and the militant group Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. During more than three months of fighting between the army and the extremist group, more than 47 Palestinian civilians, 178 soldiers and at least 220 militants were killed. More than half a year after the battle came to an end, only a fraction of its residents have been allowed to return.