Emergency appeal for Northern Lebanon: 01 Sep 2007 - 31 Aug 2008




On 20 May 2007 fierce clashes between the radical group Fatah al Islam (FAI) and the Lebanese Army (LA) erupted in Tripoli (northern Lebanon) and quickly spread to the nearby Nahr el-Bared camp (NBC). Due to the fighting, over 30,000 Palestine refugees fled their homes in and around NBC, most taking refuge in the neighbouring Beddawi Camp and other Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon. The struggle for control of Nahr el-Bared, which involved heavy aerial and artillery bombardment, was the most serious case of internal fighting in Lebanon since the end of the Civil War in 1990. The Government of Lebanon declared an end to hostilities on 2 September after a three month campaign during which 169 soldiers, 287 combatants and 42 civilians were killed.

Humanitarian Consequences

Camp facilities have been seriously damaged in the course of the fighting with currently available estimates suggesting that up to 85 percent of the camp infrastructure has been fully or partially destroyed. Water services in the camp are almost certainly no longer functioning and most of the water reservoirs and tanks that serve the camp have been severely damaged.

As a consequence of the displacement from NBC (where virtually no civilians remain), the population of Beddawi Camp increased from 16,000 to more than 30,000 exacerbating the already congested living conditions of the residents and overburdening the existing infrastructure. The extent of the hostilities has placed severe pressure on the refugee families hosting those displaced from NBC having scarce resources and thus reliant on cash or in-kind assistance for their basic needs.

UNRWA's Initial Response and Flash Appeal

In June 2007 UNRWA launched a Flash Appeal for US $12.7 million (1) to address the emergency needs for Palestine refugees affected by the crisis.

This Flash Appeal enabled the Agency to cater for the immediate humanitarian needs of the displaced in close cooperation with other UN agencies and NGOs and in close collaboration with the Lebanese Government. The Flash Appeal represented an assessment of the needs over a three month period (June-August 2007) including suitable temporary shelter and minimum living standards for the displaced and relief of the immediate congestion of Beddawi Camp.

During the early stages of planning of the emergency response, it was envisaged that the fighting would be over within weeks and that access to the camp, including the return of camp residents, would be possible within the timeframe covered by the Flash Appeal. It is now clear that a considerable longer term humanitarian relief operation is needed, as the majority of those displaced will not be able to return in the immediate aftermath of the conflict due to the extent of the destruction. Indeed, a full return may take up to two years or more.

Humanitarian relief operations undertaken to date have included the distribution of food and non-food items, provision of shelter, water and sanitation, social services, education and health services. Since the start of the conflict in late May, UNRWA has coordinated the overall humanitarian assistance via an Emergency Coordination Team for northern Lebanon, working closely with the Government of Lebanon, the UN country team and other actors.

A cluster system has been established representing the various technical sectors of intervention (relief, health, shelter, water and sanitation, education, protection, early recovery, and security) to effectively and efficiently coordinate humanitarian assistance. The clusters contributed to an Emergency Return Plan to assist the displaced and facilitate the return to NBC. The clusters adopted a participatory approach working in close consultation with the Palestinian community and other stakeholders to determine needs and maintain communication on the response.


(1) This amount includes $1.2 million for UNICEF and $493,000 for UN Department of Safety and Security.