Decade of Despair: The Contested Rebuilding of the Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp, Lebanon, 2007–2017




Lebanon, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, Nahr al-Bared, post-civil war, rebuilding, refugee camps, securitization, militarization, urban planning


In mid-2007 the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli was destroyed by the Lebanese Army battling an insurgent Islamist group, Fatah al-Islam. Displacing about 30,000 Palestinian refugees, it was one of the largest internal battles in post–civil war Lebanon. A decade later, the camp has yet to be fully rebuilt; indeed, reconstruction has been slow, confictual, and underfunded. Rebuilding the camp has been contested and delayed by political opposition, funding shortfalls, and complex ownership of land and property. About half of the displaced families have been able to return, the remainder are internally displaced, living temporarily in other camps or rented apartments. This article analyzes the slow-paced reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp and especially what can be learnt from rehousing refugees in a militarized space of exception. 


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Author Biography

Are John Knudsen, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Norway

Are John Knudsen is a senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) specialising on post-civil war Lebanon. His research interests include urban refugees, forced migration and communal conflict.  He has published articles and edited books on these topics including Palestinian Refugees: Space and Place in the Levant (Routledge, 2011) and Lebanon: After the Cedar Revolution (Hurst, 2012). His current works explores the convergence of the Palestinian and Syrian refugee crises in informal camps and squatters.



How to Cite

Knudsen, A. J. (2018). Decade of Despair: The Contested Rebuilding of the Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp, Lebanon, 2007–2017. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 34(2), 135–149.

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