Refuge in Ruin: Returning to Nahr al-Bared

All year, a string of car bombs, assassinations and the encampment of anti-government protesters in downtown Beirut had elevated fears that Lebanon's deepening political crisis could ignite an all-out war. Then a fierce clash erupted May 20 that pitted the national army against a surprising foe: a little-known militant group comprising hundreds of fighters firmly entrenched in the Palestinian camp at Nahr al-Bared.

The battle raged for 15 weeks, scattering the camp's 31,000 residents and shocking a fearfully divided nation. When the fighting ended Sept. 2, it had claimed hundreds of lives, leveled most of the camp and stretched the army perilously thin. In a country where Palestinians are still blamed for triggering the last civil war, it had raised the grim possibility that violence could spread to 11 similar camps. 'Post-Annapolis' discussions on the prospects for Palestinian statehood largely ignore the fate of Lebanon's 400,000 Palestinians. But the untold stories behind the rise of Fatah al-Islam, the ongoing displacement of Nahr al-Bared's two-time refugees and what –– if anything –– the government will do about the dismal conditions and shifting alliances within the camps, will help determine the region's future.

Lebanon: Nahr al Bared and the new Lebanese president

Sulaisu3My first blog post for this project was back in December.... the first day I arrived in Beirut, the town was shut down for the funeral of assassinated army General Francois al Hajj, the man almost certain to replace General Michel Suleiman who had been slated as the most suitable (read: least divisive) candidate for president.

Lebanon's Palestinians Set Market Value

An estimated 300,000 Palestinians have found their way to Lebanon, where they make up 10% of the population. Many have trouble finding jobs and buying property, so they're left to find economic advantages where they can. Don Duncan reports.

Refugees Return to Camp

Palestinian refugees are beginning to return to the Nahr el Bared refugee camp, 10 months after it was reduced to rubble in a battle between the Lebanese army and Muslim terrorists holed up inside.

"We want to go back now," said Nael Abu Siam, 40, a Palestinian displaced by the conflict. "We have everything there — memories of births, our friends, our houses, even our kids' toys."

Mr. Siam now lives in a school room in a nearby camp and awaits a call to move back to Nahr el Bared.

Lebanese Struggle with Broken Economy

The past several months have been Lebanon's coldest winter in 25 years, and Hanin Rafae is struggling to keep her family warm. Since her home has no fireplace, she and her five sons and six daughters huddle nightly around a fire on the patio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.