Reports & Researches

Nahr Al-Bared after 11 year of Nakba
06/06/2018

Nahr Al-Bared after 11 year of Nakba….. Where to?

The military actions that took place between the Lebanese army and the fighters of the so-called Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr Al-Bared camp on May 20, 2007 resulted in significant material and human losses, it was another Nakba for the Palestinian refugees of the camp resident. And eleven year after these events, approximately 47% of those who displaced by the fighting still outside the camp (2,298 family, approximately 10, 0017 people).

Because of this great humanitarian catastrophe, UNRWA was obliged to intervene urgently and assume its responsibilities in helping the camp residents to overcome these difficult circumstances, through declaring the camp a disaster zone and requiring immediate international intervention to save and shelter thousands of displaced families. 

Many Arab and international countries have initiated emergency financial and in-kind assistance to UNRWA in order to contain the crisis. Several international conferences have been held to provide funding for the reconstruction of Nahr Al-Bared camp, most notably the 2008 Vienna Conference to provide funding for the reconstruction of Nahr Al-Bared camp. At the Vienna Conference, donors pledged $ 122 million out of $ 450 million requested by UNRWA to be completed within three years. And because donor States have not fulfilled the commitments they have made, another conference held in Beirut 6/10/2016, in which donor countries pledged to pay $ 36 million to rebuild about 70% of the camp. 

Lebanon's legal obligations towards Palestinian refugees: 

If Lebanon is a founding member of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the preamble to its Constitution contained a clear Lebanese commitment to it, Lebanon did not abide by the spirit of this Declaration, which states in its article 1 that all people are equal in dignity and rights, and they have been given a mind and conscious and they must treat each other in the spirit of brotherhood. 

It should be noted that the treatment of a Palestinian refugee as foreign but of another kind, contravenes the Casablanca Protocol issued by the League of Arab States at a meeting in Casablanca on 10 September 1965 in relation to the treatment of Palestinian refugees in the same way as citizens of host countries, Which was ratified by Lebanon with reservations to Articles I and II, which in practice undermined the basic contents of the Protocol.

Also Lebanon's commitment stems also from the promise made by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora by saying: "Exit is temporary and return is certain and Reconstruction is inevitable." And the Complex bureaucratic procedures have been an important factor in delaying the reconstruction process.

What is the latest update of the Nahr al-Bared camp reconstruction? What are the reasons that prevented the completion of reconstruction fully after 11 years? What is the current humanitarian reality of the people in light of this delay?

Questions can be answered by the facts that will be presented by the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) through its continuous follow-up to the Nahr el-Bared reconstruction project through the following report:

First: The proportion of returnees to the camp after 11 years:

Today, 11 years after the painful events in which the camp was completely destroyed, according to UNRWA statistics until January 2018 it was found that:

  • 2641 is the total number of families who returned to the camp which is 53% of displaced families; In contrast, 2298 families are still living outside the camp, or 47% of all displaced families. Mentioned that the estimated number of Palestinian refugees displaced by the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp is 27,000.
  • UNRWA estimates that 3,340 families, or 1,750 people, will return by 2019 depending on available funding, While 1599 families, or 32% of the families, remain until new sources of funding are available. 
  • The estimated cost of reconstruction initially amounted to $ 345 million, and after the exceeding of the virtual time for the completion of the reconstruction and a result of the lack of funding and the reluctance of many donors to meet their obligations on the grounds that there was a waste of money and administrative corruption led to delays in reconstruction and Has been forced to hold a workshop in the presence of the Director General of UNRWA, Mr. Claudio Cordone, and international, official and diplomatic institutions And Palestinian technical and community bodies on 11/10/2017 in Beirut, which concluded the adoption of the principle of completing the construction of the remainder of the camp with a time limit not later than 2022. And based on the results of this workshop, UNRWA made radical changes in the management of the project and appointed a new manager, Munir Al-Mani, who conducted a comprehensive and accurate review of all contracts and tenders compared to local market prices in a timely manner. The audit concluded that the amount required to complete all stages of reconstruction is $ 90 million, not $ 115 million. These amounts are consistent with what was announced by the Engineering Follow-up Committee, which includes a diverse spectrum of Palestinian engineers from the camp, who have repeatedly demanded in the past to involve them with UNRWA's Nahr el-Bared reconstruction project to develop a suitable scenario for completing the reconstruction process at the lowest cost and as soon as possible, but their repeated claims were going on the wind.
Based on the new evaluation results, the project management has taken the following steps:

 

  • The N39 Block Tender is awarded in Package 6 and the work will commence very soon.
  • Working on the remaining packaging designs and end it within the next few months.
  • Drill the water well in the eighth package, and have been reached to the depth of 240meters and the drilling will continue until reach the groundwater.
  • Re-maintenance of the central water tank in the camp, which showed many defects before starting to use it.
  • Construction of fences around schools, especially the secondary school Amqa, and the north branch of sibling training center.
  • Complete the monuments survey in the remaining areas of the camp to be completed within a standard period of time that enables the start of reconstruction when financing is available.
Second: Financial amounts required to complete the rest of the packages:
  • UNRWA continues to make considerable efforts to mobilize the necessary funding.
  • UNRWA continues to make considerable efforts to collect the necessary funding.
  • UNRWA is still waiting for Saudi Arabia to respond after submitting the projects for it.
  • UNRWA expects the German government to announce additional funding through the German Development Bank in 2018, in addition for its working with other donors.
  • UNRWA expects the EU to contribute subsequent funds that can complete the reconstruction process.
  • There are also promises from the Austrian government to contribute in the completion of the reconstruction process.
  • Many delegations of donor countries are still visiting Nahr al-Bared to see where to the reconstruction process has reached and what it can do next.
  • And its worth to mention that the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri emphasize the importance of completing the reconstruction project as a top priority at the Syrian Conference 2 held in Brussels recently.
Third: The humanitarian situation of camp residents:
The people of Nahr al-Bared continue to appeal to the donor countries, the United Nations and UNRWA to take their responsibilities and to exert more efforts to end their suffering and grant them their human rights, considering that UNRWA was not justice to them despite the funds granted by the Arab and European countries, for the following reasons:
  • Not receiving compensation for 11 years of rents, diseases and lack of medicines in UNRWA clinics ...
  • Depriving them from the cash rent allowance on the TSCA program.
  • Many of them still live in brixes that is unhealthy for humans.
Fourth: Recommendations
We at the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness) and 11 years after Nahr Al-Bared camp nakba, we demand:
  • Donors must fulfill their commitments made at the Vienna Conference and the Beirut Conference so that UNRWA can complete the construction of Nahr al-Bared camp.
  • The Lebanese government must abide by its promises for the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared camp and facilitate legal and administrative procedures in this area.
  • The PLO should make greater efforts to provide support to complete the restoration of Nahr al-Bared camp.
  • We call the popular Committee, camp societies and the civil society organizations to solve any problem related to the implementation of the projects to be completed so that grants do not go to other projects.

Beirut, 25/5/2018
Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness)