The Brewing Problems of Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugee Camps
While many in Lebanon are warily eying the possibility of Syria’s conflict spilling across the border, potentially explosive issues facing the country’s large Palestinian refugee population have yet to be resolved. Next month will mark the five year anniversary of the battle at Nahr al-Bared, where the Lebanese military laid siege against radical Fatah al-Islam militants, ultimately destroying the camp. Today, the camp has yet to be rebuilt and the episode has scarred Lebanese-Palestinian relations. Additionally, the kind of environment that allowed Fatah al-Islam to operate in Nahr al-Bared still exists today. Last month, the Lebanese government uncovered an Abdullah Azzam brigade cell within the military’s ranks that was planning attacks. Some have called for the Palestinian camps – particularly Ain al-Helweh where the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and several other Jihadi factions are based – to be forcibly disarmed and for wanted men to be turned over to the authorities. But in the fragile patchwork of Lebanon and the camps, there are no easy solutions to such problems.
Check out my story regarding security issues facing the camps for the International Herald Tribune here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/world/middleeast/05iht-m05-lebanon-camp.html