Displaced and returnees, the saga continues – 2
Posted by worriedlebanese on 24/10/2006
In the preceding post on the displaced (October 17th), we saw how a political actor uses this issue in relation to national reconciliation so as to assert and reaffirm his power both locally and nationally. The reader might be interested in getting some background information on the controversy surrounding the displaced of the Shouf and Aley districts.
The civil war and the military interventions of the Syrians and Israelis had resulted in the displacement (through expulsion or heavy destruction of the livelihoods) of several hundreds of thousands of Lebanese. There were four main areas which suffered the most from displacement: Beirut and its suburbs (Christian fleeing or being pressured to leave for the eastern parts and Muslims fleeing or being expelled to the western parts), Southern Mount Lebanon (that was cleansed of its Christian population), the South (mostly Shiites leaving because of the intense Israeli bombing and occupation), the Northern and Eastern peripheral regions (mostly Christians leaving because of political reasons, or being expelled from isolated villages).
In 1992, the Ministry of Displaced was created to grant rights to citizens and protect them in order to guarantee the return of the displaced according to all relevant national and international laws. It estimates the number of the displaced population to be 800 000. For the funding of their return to the towns and villages they had left during the civil war, a Central Fund for the Displaced was established.As for those who are displaced as a result of recent military attacks (by Israel), they are cater for by the High Relief Commission.The management of the displaced files was controversial from the very start.
The most contentious element was the naming of Walid Jumblatt, a warlord responsible of much of the displacement, as the first minister of the displaced. Since then, this ministry has been held almost disruptively by an MP from Jumblatt’s bloc (and the region he controls) that he has named to the post. More recently, two elements brought the controversy around the displaced back to the forefront.
– A conference organised by the FPM on the ‘Right of return’ where the ministry’s handling of the issue was criticised (September 30th).
– The allocation of 80 million LP to those who were hit by this summer’s Israeli attack, while the other displaced are granted by the Ministry of the displaced the sum of 30 million LP (October 16th).