Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp, Lebanon: Call for Solidarity and Financial Aid

Appeal: Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Since 20 May, Nahr al Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon with an estimated 40,000 inhabitants, has been under bombardment by Lebanese military forces. The military assault on the densely populated refugee camp takes place after a clash between Lebanese security forces and an armed salifist group called Fatah al Islam, which infiltrated the civilian refugee camp.

The bombardment of the refugee camp takes place during the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. This year also marks the 59th anniversary of the creation of the apartheid state of Israel, which led to the displacement of some 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Some of these refugees, their children, and their grandchildren are now living in Nahr al Bared, as the world remains largely silent in the face of Israel's refusal to recognize their right of return.

According to the United Nations Refugee and Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), over 20,000 people have been displaced since 20 May. Lebanese national and religious institutions have, in general, remained closed to the displaced refugees. The large majority of those displaced have instead taken refuge in greatly over-burdened and under-resourced homes in other Palestinian refugee camps, such as Shatila, Bourj al Barajneh and Baddawi. International NGOs are directing relief towards the small minority who are sheltering in UNRWA schools.

As fighting between the army and Fatah al Islam enters its fourth week, thousands of civilians remain trapped within the camp. Military clashes are spreading to other refugee camps in the country, notably Ein el Hilweh, a camp near Sidon, in the southern part of the country.

Circumstances surrounding the conflict are unclear; the origin, nature and objectives of Fatah al Islam - an armed extremist organization with few historic or current ties to Palestinians in Lebanon - raise many questions.

In this context, Tadamon! Montreal regards the following as points of departure to respond to the crisis:

* Nahr al Bared and the other Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon exist as a result of the creation of the state of Israel and the continued refusal of the apartheid state to accept the Palestinians' right of return, as called for by U.N. Resolution 194. The refusal by Lebanese authorities to grant full civil and economic rights to the Palestinians until their eventual return to their homeland has resulted in sub-standard conditions in the camps.

* Palestinians who have no relation whatsoever with Fatah al Islam - that is, the vast majority of people residing in Nahr al Bared - have been displaced or killed, their homes and lives shattered by the shelling of the camp.

* The conflict is being instrumentalized by various parties in Lebanon to heighten prejudice against Palestinian refugees, who should be considered allies in the struggle against Israeli colonialism. It is being used to exacerbate sectarian division, destabilize the country and to undermine the fight against Israeli apartheid and resistance to North American domination of the region.

From this perspective, Tadamon! calls on all who are concerned with justice and human life to refuse to be silently complicit in the oppression of people who have already suffered displacement for 59 years. Tadamon! calls on everyone to reject the Bush-like logic, all too often implicit in media coverage of the crisis, which justifies "collateral damage" as necessary to "national security" in the context of the "war against terrorism".

==> TADAMON! APPEALS to all who have the capacity, to DONATE, even a symbolic amount, to one of the following grassroots relief initiaties, organized in a spirit of solidarity by friends and allies of Tadamon! in Lebanon:

* NAHR EL BARED RELIEF CAMPAIGN. The Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign was spontaneously formed following the tragic events in Nahr el Bared Camp and organizes on behalf of those not getting NGO aid. We are made up of a grouping of unaffiliated individuals, including students, professors, and activists working on relief and civil action to end the violence and offer aid to those injured and displaced due to the Nahr el Bared conflict.
Contact: Nahr al-Bared Relief Campaign: www.nahrelbaredcampaign.org

* WOMEN'S HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATION, BURJ AL-BARAJNEH. The Women's Humanitarian Organization (WHO) was founded in 1993 to serve women and children living in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Currently the Women's Humanitarian Organization is working to help provide basic needs to the internally displaced Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, including clothes, medicines, food supplies, and hygienic necessities.
Contact: Olfat Mahmoud, Director, Women's Humanitarian Organization: palwho[at]gmail.com.

NOTE: To reduce bank transfer costs, you can send your donation via Tadamon! Montreal. Cash donations can be arranged by calling us at 514 664 1036 or emailing us at tadamon@resist.ca. Checks should be made out to "Tadamon! Montreal", specifying "Nahr al Bared" in the subject line, and sent to: Tadamon! Montreal, 3647 University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B3.


- Nahr al Bared information (English and Arabic): www.nahrelbared.info
- Electronic Lebanon (English): www.electronicintifada.net/lebanon
- Al-Akhbar Newspaper (Arabic): www.al-akhbar.com
- Aljazeera (English): http://english.aljazeera.net/English
- Aljazeera (Arabic): www.aljazeera.net
- The Daily Star (English): www.dailystar.com.lb

Tadamon! Montreal
+1 514 664 1036