URGENT: Aid to Nahr al Bared

05.28.2007 |

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A growing humanitarian crisis is occurring in North Lebanon at the Palestinian Camp, Nahr Al Bared Camp. Heavy fighting began on Sunday 20 May, with shelling on the camp itself beginning on Tuesday, May 22. According to statistics by UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees in the Near East, approximately 31,000 registered Palestinians live in the camp, although actual statistics, including the unregistered persons are closer to around 35,000.

When the fighting began many civilians remained still in the camps, caught in the cross-fire, and evacuated during a ceasefire and has continued with only sporadic gunfire afterwards. While exact figures are still unknown at this point the number, approximately 25% of the refugees are seeking refuge in UNRWA schools. The majority of families–approximately 75% have sought refuge with other families in the nearby Badawi Palestinian Camp in the North of Lebanon and increasingly refugees are streaming into Palestinian camps in Beirut–Shatila, Mar Elias, and Bourj al Barajneh.

Many civilians were injured and have chronic illnesses and hospitals as well as clinics are running low on medical supplies, as well as there are limited basic necessities for all the IDPs as they fled their camp with just the clothes on their back. The situation is extremely critical and requires additional aid and supplies to prevent a further increase to the already growing humanitarian crisis. Aside from international organizations, such as UNRWA, civil society organizations and grassroots groups–such as professors and students from the American University of Beirut, and the Committee of the Festival of the Right of Return, began immediate operations to gather supplies and take care of IDPs and support hospitals caring for the wounded.

Immediate funds are required to buy the supplies needed for the IDPs. We have adopted 50 families, whom the Nahr al Bared Relief Campaign is taking care of, by purchasing items inside the refugee camps to supply the refugees with the supplies they need (medicine, diapers, kitchen materials, clothing, and hygiene kits). While donations of clothing and other items are welcome, we feel it is important to collect cash donations as the economy of the Badawi refugee camp is already suffering because the NGOs inside the camp are bringing all their aid in from outside. Thus, we are supplying people inside Badawi, Bourj al Barajneh and Shatila camps with goods from their own community.

The Naher Al Bared Relief Campaign is working with Palestinian and grassroots organizations who are on the ground in the camps where people have fled: Badawi, Shatila, Bourj al Barajneh. We are seeking funds to assist us in our relief efforts. We are working as a grassroots organization because 80% of the relief from NGOs, including the Red Cross/Crescent and the UN, are only giving aid to refugees in the UNRWA schools, thus only reaching 25% of the population and no NGOs are on the ground in the camps in Shatila and Bourj al Barajneh as of yet. Thus far we have given food aid, medicine, hygiene kits, diapers, and baby formula to Nahr al Bared refugees who are internally displaced in four refugee camps in Lebanon. We have adopted 50 families in Shatila whom we will care for, in cooperation with Palestinian NGOs and political parties inside the camp, and we are seeking to raise $1500 per day to take care of these families. There are many more in need, and we will include more families depending on our fundraising; please consider giving us anywhere from $100 to $1000 to help support our efforts.

For more information about our project please visit:
http://nahrelbareddonations.blogspot.com/

To donate funds here are the details:

Donation Account Details For tax-deductible donations to the Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign please use the following account:

AUB Office of Development

https://rtf.aub.edu.lb/

Please make sure to specify that your donation is going to the Nahr el Bared refugees.

To contact us:

Rami Zurayk: Professor at the American University of Beirut Mobile: +961.3.733.227 rzurayk@aub.edu.lb

Rania Masri: Professor at the University of Balamand Mobile: +961.3.135.279 rania.masri@balamand.edu.lb

Marcy Newman: Professor at the American University of Beirut Mobile: +961.3.977.812 marcynewman@gmail.com

Source: Norman Finkelstein

Electronic Lebanon: Shatila & Press Freedom

None of the people I spoke to in Shatila expressed any sympathy with Fateh al-Islam; they just showed concern and anger at the way the Lebanese Army is shelling the camp and destroying the houses of the people.

Nadia says that her cousin said seventy percent of his neighborhood in the camp is totally destroyed. “Maybe it is all leveled now.” Nadia, as everybody else in the camp, feels that the Palestinians are paying a price for a fight that has nothing to do with them. It is not a Palestinian group, not a group fighting for the Palestinian or refugee cause, they just were operating from the camp. As for why they had come there, most of the people have the same answer: they always referred to the unbearable conditions of the refugees in the camp, a fact that made them subject to all sorts of exploitation.

If Shatila residents are pretty sure of their disconnection with Fateh al-Islam, they are pretty sure too that something is awaiting them, something that does not look good.

Electronic Lebanon: Solidarity in Shatila

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that journalists have been prevented since Monday from entering a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon during clashes between Islamist militants and the Lebanese Army.

….

Journalists told CPJ that they suspected the army was also attempting to hinder coverage of the humanitarian crisis inside the camp where, according to news reports, more than a dozen civilians were killed and 12,000 refugees forced to flee the camp.

….

Attacks against journalists were also reported. Al-Akhbar photographer Wael al-Ladifi, Al-Balad photographer Asad Ahmad, Agence France-Presse photographer Ramzy Haidar, and Al-Alam cameraman Ali Tahimi said they were beaten by members of the Lebanese Army on Thursday.

….

In related news, television crews from three different stations came under attack from civilians while covering the aftermath of a bomb blast in the mountainous town of Aley, east of Beirut on Wednesday night.

Electronic Lebanon: Lebanese Army imposes restrictions on coverage of camp siege

Blacksmiths of Lebanon: Syria’s Media Insurgency in Lebanon

An article exploring the issues of Hariri and the government supporting militias, trying to discount it or play it down.  I find anyone that considers the attrocities commited in Nahr Al-Bared as a victory or as something worth uniting behind has already lost credibility as a source.  This is still worth reading for an alternative perspective.

Almost as soon as the Syrian-backed Fatah al-Islam group launched a series of suprise attacks on Lebanese Army outposts and patrols, Syria’s other allies in the country mounted a suprise attack of their own, attempting to transform a battle that should have rallied all Lebanese together in the defense of the state into a partisan conspiracy aimed at breaking any potential unity that could have arisen out of this week’s national tragedy and impending victory.

Blacksmiths of Lebanon: Syria’s Media Insurgency in Lebanon

Franklin Lamb: Inside Nahr el-Bared

“Another Waco in the Making”
Inside Nahr el-Bared
By FRANKLIN LAMB

Bedawi and Nahr el-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camps, Lebanon.

With very intermittent internet access and this ancient pc with one lone wire running from the spaghetti wiring system tied to the ceiling and taped to a single bare light bulb socket, plus 8 toddlers, two babies, crawling over and under this ‘foreigner’ in a 10 x 12 concrete room where 28 or more of us slept on the floor last night, this blurb may never be sent. But if it does get out and for what it’s worthan update on the situation in the Palestinian Nabr al-Bared and Bedawi Camps. Will try to send results shortly of my interviews with 11 Fatah al-Islam fighters regarding who paid them and got them travel documents and weapons and what was their mission. There was no bank robbery by them. That wasa fake story put out by the Welch Club. Sorry I misreported it. BBC was suckered. Also, no, repeat no heads cut off. Where are the medical reports from those who claim it? That was black propaganda to smear Fatah el-Islam. Must leave this building nowmay not be until tomorrow or so.

Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGO’s still negotiating with army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it). The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as on Monday-Wednesday. The “security agents” on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Baled are the main sniper danger. People claim they are Hariri militia but I can not confirm that. The army told the PLO they would stop them but as of Saturday night they are still shooting. They are trying to shoot anyone they see inside or leaving al-Balad. Someone should stop them.

Several hours ago I met a woman arriving from al-Bared who had walked the whole 7 miles with an 18 month old baby and a daughter of 5 who just stares into the press cameras with her mouth open and eyes glazed over. The Palestinian mother told us neither she nor her children have eaten or taken water for four days. The children will be ok. The mother’s husband is in Syria she said and she has no relatives.

One NGO group of three from Beirut left a few hours ago in tears from frustration, sadness and anger from repeatedly being stopped by the army from taking supplies to al Barad. Their cargo of water and blankets abandoned. On Saturday the Palestinian Red Crescent, which for a quarter century has provide the medical service to both camps has been formally and completely banned from al-Bared and told they will be shot if they try to enter al-Bared. I met with the PRCS leadership and drivers.

There is some-near panic in Bedawi caused by many rumors. One rumor, widely believed, is that the Lebanese government plans to demolish al-Bared to make room for the huge US/NATO airbase which is to be built next to the camp. 5,000 of the Palestinians in al-Bared are from the 1975 ethnically cleansed east Beirut camp Telazatter. The PLO moved them to al-Bared at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war (1975-90) and they live close together in one al-Bared neighborhood. Saw women wailing that they may be another Telazatter massacre and destruction of their homes.

Many Palestinian young men are being arrested as they leave al-Bared. An old woman sleeping in the same room as me last night told us that her son was taken as he left al-Bared on Monday and she has not heard from him. There are now 6 check points between Tripoli and Beirut. Many (I was told all but have not confirmed it) Palestinian males traveling to Beirut are being arrested and taken for interrogation. Some from al-Bared are afraid to try to go to Beirut and stay with relatives.

Fear among PLO camp leaders that there could be a blood bath. “It’s the Bush complex,” one German NGO volunteer said. “The Lebanese government wants to be macho like the Israelis to gain some respect. This could be another Waco in the making, for no reason.” The PLO is trying to mediate with the army to avoid a slaughter that would occur if the army tries to enter al-Bared. “What is needed is leadership and for the warlords to keep quiet. The army has behaved very badly but it’s the politicians fault.”

Great fear that the army will try to enter al-Bared.

The army moved the press position to more than one mile from al Bared, “for security”. The army has orders to give no information to the press. Some journalists feel something terrible is going to happen here. Just heard the army has now completely sealed the camp. No access to the wounded still in basements and bombed houses needing help Palestinians activist in Bedawi say that if the army goes into al-Bared and makes a massacre that Palestinian from all over Lebanon will fight. This may be what some here or outside Lebanon are hoping for.

The Welch Club wants the army to “wipe out the terrorists”, and “protect our Palestinian brothers”. Not one Palestinian in either camp or observer I know believes that. Rather the Palestinian community here believes that the whole Fatah al-Islam “very strange case” was designed to assault their 420,000 population here.

School is cancelled in Bedawi because up to 20,000 from Bared are being housed in them. Food and water are arriving intermittently but distribution is not yet well organized. Much angst among the arrivals who come with only what they are wearing.

Joy to find al-Bared loved ones. Statements are heard on the crowded streets such as” why did the army fire on us? There were no fighters in our area?” “Where was their artillery during the July war? Why did they not fight Israel and now bomb us”?

The leader of Nahr al Bared Women’s association accused Lebanon’s envoy Abbas Zaki of not helping the refugees and with cooperating with the government and Israel. ‘He should come here’, one woman said. Abu Ammar or Abu Jihad (Arafat and his deputy Khalil al Wazir) would have come if they were alive”. Fatah is weak in Bedawi and even weaker in al-Bared.

Seven PLO factions operate in both camps. They jointly chased Fatah al-Islam out of Bedawi on September 21, 2006 not long after they split from Abu Musa’s Fateh Intifida which has been based in Badawi since 1983. Fatah Intifada still man’s the entrance to Bedawi but they seem to have only about 100 members left. When one interviews them they are almost apologetic about their step-brothers, Fatah al-Islam. “We expelled them because we did not like their friends (Hariri intelligence staff) they were too religious and acted strange but we did not think things would come to this”) but the al-Barad PLO factions do not have arms or power to confront FAI.

Amazing examples of humanity happening here. There are many family connections between the two camps. Kids distribute and water bread when it arrives in cars from Beirut and elsewhere. Young girls picking up and caring for babies of people they don’t know, helping old people find a place to sit and listen to them when they tell of what happened. I could be wrong but I have rarely witnessed the solidarity among people as I see here with the Palestinians. Clean, smart, patient, charming, funny, and caring toward one another-determined to return to Palestine

Many who have been in Badawi for nearly a week now just want to just go back and die in their al-Bared homes. On 5/25/07 the Palestinian group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine tried to organize a convoy of those who wanted to return to al-Bared. The plan is to go as far as they can and refuse to leave the army checkpoints until they are allowed back in. The convoy did not leave Bedawi yet and the idea may be abandoned.

Franklin Lamb: Inside Nahr el-Bared

Badruddin Khan: AIPAC Intervenes on Iran

It has happened again, and in the open. The American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) which heads a network of pro-Israeli lobbies, persuaded Congress to drop a provision which would have required President Bush to ask for Congressional approval prior to attacking Iran.

As reported in the May 16, 2007 issue of The Hill:

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential group that advocates strong U.S. ties with Israel, lobbied heavily to remove the Iran provision in the supplemental, arguing that the measure would weaken President Bush’s attempts to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

This intervention by AIPAC to permit President Bush to act without Congressional debate was widely reported, as was AIPAC’s earlier intervention with a supplemental budget bill.

In other words, a Democratic Congress elected to end the Iraq war has willingly given up its right (and responsibility) to engage in public debate prior to a new act of war against Iran, a sovereign nation. By voting to look the other way, Congress has left this war decision to the discretion of an unpopular president, who has already failed once.

read the rest: Badruddin Khan: AIPAC Intervenes on Iran

Know your enemy – Frances FM Kouchner

Kouchner, a former French minister of humanitarian affairs, last went to Lebanon in an official capacity during the civil war.

“You know how much I feel personally attached to Lebanon,” he said.

French FM pledges support for Lebanon government | Ya Libnan | Lebanon News Live from Beirut

So what makes Kouchner so much more appealing to Israel?

Kouchner, who was born to a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, is close to right-wing Jewish MP Pierre Lellouche, who advises Sarkozy on international issues. And Kouchner received an honorary degree from Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba at the height of the second intifada…

Kouchner at the diplomatic helm, coupled with the new American-style National Security Adviser Jean-David Levitte – former French ambassador to Washington – Sarkozy is making good on his pledge of support to his American friends.

Kouchner and Levitte broke ranks with the French government in 2003, refusing to oppose the invasion of Iraq. Kouchner published an article in Le Monde arguing the positives in toppling Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile in Israel, some have already registered their satisfaction:

Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has said that with the coming to power of his friend Sarkozy, he expects French Middle East policy “will no longer be characterized by reflective anti-Israelism.”

For the full article see the Fanonites site –

Bernard Kouchner: Israel Got Lucky « The Fanonite

Hezbollah urges political solution for north Lebanon

He talked about other means to deal with Fath-Al-Islam

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب

“The problem in the north can be solved politically and through the judiciary in a way that protects the Lebanese army, our Palestinian brothers, the state and peace and stability without transforming Lebanon into a battleground in which we fight al-Qaida on behalf of the Americans,” he said in a televised address.Naharnet News Desk Nasrallah Opposes Military Incursion Into Nahr al-BaredBut in a TV address Hezbollah’s leader said the conflict could be solved politically and should not escalate. And he outlined Hezbollah’s opposition to any militant incursion into the camp.“The Nahr el-Bared camp and Palestinian civilians are a red line,” Sheikh Nasrallah said.

“We will not accept or provide cover or be partners in this.”

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Hezbollah head warns against raid

As a Shia group, Hezbollah views Sunni fighters like Fatah al-Islam as enemies and surely will welcome finishing them off by the Lebanese army.Nasrallah said the Fatah al- Islam fighters who attacked the military should be brought to justice.

But he said Hezbollah opposed any military incursion into the camp to crush the fighters.

He said: “The Nahr el-Bared camp and Palestinian civilians are a red line. We will not accept or provide cover or be partners in this.”

Hezbollah urges political solution for north Lebanon problem | Ya Libnan | Lebanon News Live from Beirut