04 May 2010

The Enduring Blockade on Nahr al-Bared

Residents of Nahr al-Bared protest continuing government delays on reconstruction of the destroyed camp, October 2009

Three years after the war on Nahr al-Bared began, the Palestinian refugee camp is still blockaded by the Lebanese army. While Lebanese citizens can freely enter and exit the camp, Palestinian residents - just recently returned - cannot leave or enter their homes without a government permit. Imposing such a stricture on camp residents continually inhibits a return to normalcy for the 30,000 whose homes were destroyed during the 2007 war.

That Nahr al-Bared camp residents need a permit to access their own living space highlights the broader issue of rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The refugee population numbers anywhere between 250,000 and 400,000, most of whom live in the country's twelve camps. Accounting for approximately 10% of Lebanon's population, Palestinian refugees are forbidden access to nearly all well-paying professions and possess next to none of the civil rights accorded Lebanese citizens. Moreover, Palestinians in Lebanon face constant discrimination not only in the workplace, but from government officials, police, and great swaths of the Lebanese population.

Tawtin - the full naturalization of Palestinian refugees into Lebanese civil society - is neither desirable nor necessary, as it risks the loss of the Right of Return to Palestine. However, creating legal pariahs of the refugee population further informs discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon and denies them the basic tenets of a decent quality of life.

Falastine Horra stands in solidarity with Palestinian refugees, and calls for their treatment as individuals with a right to freely access their homes. Beginning with dissolving the government-mandated permit system for Nahr al-Bared residents, Falastine Horra will strive for a greater standard of living for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.