Fighting has left half of Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp `a hot area,’ UN says

Aug 10, 2023, 3:04 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Days of fighting in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon displaced several hundred families, destroyed up to 400 houses and left half the camp still off-limits and considered “a hot area,” a senior U.N. official said Thursday.

Dorothee Klaus, Director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, said she was able to visit part of the Ein el-Hilweh camp for the first time earlier this week and met with traumatized children and women, some whose hair turned white during the hostilities.

The fighting between members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group and militants of Islamic groups at Ein el-Hilweh near the southern port of Sidon that began July 30 and ended Aug. 3 left 13 people dead and dozens wounded.

Klaus said “the camp remains unstable,” with the Lebanese military barring access to half the camp because armed fighters are still positioned there and it’s not safe though hostilities have ceased.

She told U.N. journalists at a video press conference that the U.N. agency, known as UNRWA, has reopened services in about 50% of the camp which includes one health center, but a school complex for over 3,000 children was also damaged.

“We’ve been collecting garbage, disinfecting, and started removing rubble,” she said, and when the other half of the camp reopens the first thing will be to remove unexploded ordnance and remnants of war.

Ein el-Hilweh, which is home to over 50,000 Palestinian refugees, is one of a dozen refugee camps in Lebanon. The country has between 200,000 and 250,000 Palestinian refugees, half living in camps and the rest in the vicinity, she said.

Violent clashes are a regular occurrence and many camps have been destroyed several times, Klaus said, pointing to previous clashes in Ein el-Hilweh in March.

She said the violence “needs to be understood in the context of multiple displacements” Palestinian refugees have experienced over the past 75 years in Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled from what is now Israel following the U.N.’s partition of British-ruled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states in 1948.

Refugees in Lebanon are still prevented from working in middle class professions as doctors, lawyers and engineers and they are barred from owning property, so all those who have studied have migrated “leaving very vulnerable populations behind,” Klaus said.

She said 50% of men over the age of 16 are unemployed, the remainder have sporadic employment, and 80% of refugees live in poverty.

“So, it is indeed, a very desperate picture for a community that has very little future outlook that is positive after 75 years,” Klaus said. “It is a population that is very depressed, and that comes from a sense of being very helpless,” which often translates into either aggression, self-destructive behavior including substance abuse, or violence within the family.

The impact of the most recent violence is that the refugee community has been retraumatized, she said, still suffering from “very high rates of non-communicable diseases which we attribute to very high levels of stress.”

Klaus said UNRWA needs $12 million to provide cash assistance to 65% of the refugees, which she said would be “a major stabilizing factor,” especially at a time that Lebanon is facing a major economic crisis.

Can anything be done to prevent another violent clash in the refugee camps?

“Every crisis is an opportunity to thrash out a roadmap for preventing this from happening,” Klaus said. “We’re counting on a high-level meeting between various Palestinian parties and the Lebanese next week which we will also participate in, looking at some of the mechanisms for the rehabilitation and reconstruction process – and some of these questions will certainly be asked.”

National News

Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs law to raise minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California fast food workers will be paid at least $20 per hour next year under a new law signed Thursday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. When it takes effect on April 1, fast food workers in California will have among the highest minimum wages in the country, according to data compiled […]

51 minutes ago

Associated Press

Menendez will address Senate colleagues about his bribery charges as calls for his resignation grow

WASHINGTON (AP) — With calls for his resignation increasing, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is expected on Thursday to address his Democratic Senate colleagues for the first time since he was indicted on federal bribery charges. More than half of Senate Democrats have said he should step down. But Menendez, who is scheduled to speak […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in h...

Associated Press

Colleges should step up their diversity efforts after affirmative action ruling, the government says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is asking America’s colleges to renew their efforts to make campuses more racially diverse, urging schools to boost scholarships and minority recruiting and to give “meaningful consideration” to the adversity students face because of their race or finances. The Education Department Supreme Court decision in June barring colleges from […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Jury to decide fate of delivery driver who shot YouTube prankster following him

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — Defense attorneys argued Thursday that their client was acting in self defense when he shot a YouTube prankster who followed him around a mall food court earlier this year. The jury began deliberations in the trial of Alan Colie, 31, a DoorDash driver charged with aggravated malicious wounding and firearms counts […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Search for man who police say shot deputy and another person closes schools in South Carolina

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The daylong search for a man who investigators say shot two people, including a sheriff’s deputy, along the South Carolina coast led officials to close several schools Thursday. Deputies have been looking for Ernest Robert Burbage III on Johns Island since about noon Wednesday, when they said he fired shots, […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Ringo Starr on ‘Rewind Forward,’ writing country music, the AI-assisted final Beatles track and more

LOS ANGELES (AP) — There are rock stars, and then there is Ringo Starr — drummer for the Beatles, award-winning soloist, photographer, narrator, actor, activist. To call him prolific would almost shortchange his accomplishments. But it also feels right. “Rewind Forward,” out October 13, is his fourth extended play release in three years. “I’ve loved […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Fighting has left half of Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp `a hot area,’ UN says