OPT: Refugee stories - Displaced from Nahr El Bared overcrowd neighboring camp

Originally published
Lebanon, May 2007. As the days pass without a resolution to the conflict in northern Lebanon, Beddawi camp is continuing to struggle with its new inhabitants.

Sitting in hallways, even sprawled on the floor through UNRWA's schools, parents attempt to distract their children from the obvious despair they are feeling. Many refugees say this displacement is reminiscent of the first one all those years ago.

With nowhere to sleep, the humanitarian situation is of the most difficult order.

As the health situation continues to deteriorate, it brings with it a new crisis: how to clothe, house and feed the more than 20,000 displaced from Nahr el-Bared.

Children, hungry, bored and traumatized roam the streets and hallways of the schools. NGO:s continue to arrange activities for them, but it is difficult because of the lack of space. Beddawi's population has doubled and the camps' infrastructure is stretched beyond capacity.

UNRWA teachers from Beddawi and Nahr el-Bared camps have put together an awareness campaign to reiterate the need for hygiene, in the hope of staving off disease and infection. There have already been many reported cases of lice and scabies.

The extent of the trauma of those suffered by those fleeing from Nahr el-Bared Camp is still not fully highlighted. However, stories are now emerging from those who left the beleaguered camp.

Lying on his back, in Beddawi's Safad Hospital, 12 year-old Yusef Radi Aburadi talks about how he saw his mother, who was four months pregnant, was shot in the head by a sniper whilst he and his family fled Nahr el-Bared on Tuesday. As he leaned over his mother's body slumped in his lap, he was then shot in the abdomen and lucky to have survived. A sniper also injured Yusef's father.

To help prevent the spread of disease, barbers have set themselves up in the playground of one of UNRWA's schools to cut the hair of the children in the camp.

Most Houses in Beddawi Camp are accommodating displaced from Nahr El Bared.

More than 4000 families from Nahr El Bared stay with relatives or friends inside the Beddawi Camp. Many of these people arrived with nothing.

UNRWA distribution centers in Beddawi Camp. The conditions are cramped and there is now heavy pressure on the water and sanitation services as well as electricity supply, despite the additional support services brought in by UNRWA and UNICEF.