Definition of IDPs
The Lebanese Government and IDPs
The U.N and IDPs
NGOs and IDP
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Reports and Studies

The Internally Displaced Persons

The Lebanese Government and IDPs
  1. First Phase 1991 - 1999
    - Government Action

  2. Second Phase 1999-2002
    - Interview
    - Press Conference


From 1991 to 1999, the question of the internally displaced persons, between 15 and 25 per cent of Lebanon's population of about 3.2 million people, became a crucial point of Government's policy. A Ministry for the Displaced and a Central Fund for the Displaced were created in order to solve this issue. The policy adopted by the Authorities focused on reconstruction and infrastructure and housing rehabilitation, without stressing on reconciliation between the different communities and on the human and psychological implications.

In fact, in 1999, only22-25% of displaced persons has returned.While many obstacles delayed the return process,large numbers of displaced people did not want to return to their villages because economic, social or security conditions were better for them in their new locations.

The daily life of the displaced people

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Historical background

In 1975 series of fights broke out in Lebanon that lasted 17 years. Consequently, massive destruction occurred, that included, homes, infra and social structures and economical and educational institutions. In addition, more than 100,000 civilians were killed as well as doubles of that number of wounded, homeless, handicapped, orphans, widows, and a massive number of unemployed. After the permanent cease fire in November of 1991, the results of this long war surfaced. 90,000 families were displaced, with an average of 5,7 persons to each family. 70,000 families are directly concerned with return. 45,000 families occupy other people's houses illegally. 12,000 families live miserably in places that are not designated for habitation (commercial and industrial centers and buildings that are liable to collapse).

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Two categories of IDPs have to be distinguished

- IDPs from the persistent internal conflict and the civil war, which entailed the fragmentation of the country into confessionally based districts.

- IDPs resulted from the Israel invasions in 1978 and 1982. The Israeli invasion of 1978 displaced about 200,000 Lebanese (mostly Shi'a Muslims) and 65,000 Palestinians from the south of the country.

Although most of this displacement was temporary, some became effectively permanent, with many people resettling indefinitely, particularly in the southern suburbs of Beirut. By 1986, an estimated 225,000-300,000 people had been displaced by the 1982 Israeli invasion and its prolonged aftermath

Traditional houses,other victims of displacement?

(see the Norwegian Refugee Council report, Internally Displaced People, a global survey, published in 1997, pages 185-189).

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Government Policy

The return of the displaced became a big burden to the Lebanese Government and a crucial point of its policy. The displacement turmoil formed a threat to the country's independence and sovereignty, as displacement was on grounds of religious backgrounds. After the Ta'if Conference in October of 1991 (which led to the ratification by the Parliament of the new Lebanese Constitution, known as the Ta'if Agreement), the entire country witnessed a step toward reconstruction where it had no precedent. The main goal of the Government program was the consolidation of national reconciliation in the country.

The implementation program of the Government consisted first, in the creation of the Ministry of the Displaced and the Central Fund for the Displaced as of 1991; in the colloboration of different ministries contributing to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the infrastructure of return areas; in the intiation of the "A'idoun" program (or UN Reintegration and Socio-economic Rehabilitation of the Displaced) in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); and in planning other projects with the assistance of non-governmental organizations, local associations and international organizations.

With funds allocated by the Central Fund for the Displaced, the Ministry started its activities by rehabilitating houses according to a set schedule. The Ministry pursued an implementation plan that harmonized the economical rising of the country for the post-war period.

Furthermore, the immediate purposes of the program were:

· Objective 1: To rehabilitate the reconstruction sights in the areas of return.

· Objective 2: To rehabilitate the infrastructure.

· Objective 3: Housing.

- Repairing the destroyed houses.

- Rehabilitate the partially destroyed houses.

- To reconstruct the totally destroyed houses.

- To evacuate the illegally occupied houses.

· Objective 4: Resetting the general services, social and educational services and develop them. Provide educational, health and social services. Support the work of local associations.

· Objective 5: To rehabilitate the productive economical sectors.

· Objective 6: Achieving reconciliation.

Situation at the end of the first phase

In 1996 the Ministry of the Displaced presented a figure estimating 90,000 families (more than 500,000 people), of whom 70,000 were said to be seeking return. Of these 70,000 families, 45,000 were said to be illegally occupying other people's properties, having been displaced themselves. Much of the displacement targeted urban areas, particularly Beirut, a long-term trend greatly reinforced by the extended periods of conflict and instability.

Large number of displaced people did not want to return home because economic, social, and security conditions are better for them in their new locations. Mistrust between confessional groups has been greatly exacerbated by 15 years of conflict. Many may wish to regain their property without physically returning to their former houses. In 1999, an estimated 20 or 25% of the displaced persons has returned home.

Many obstacles delayed the return process:
- Wastage of funds, particularly associated with lack of accountability for money allocated through the national fund for the displaced;

- Imbalances in the distribution of compensation money;

- Attempts to evict people from illegally occupied houses without corresponding provision for their resettlement elsewhere;

- Political tensions and controversies between government officials.

(Information from the Norwegian Refugee Council report, Internally Displaced People, a global survey).

SECOND PHASE 1999 - 2002

This second phase is characterized by several major changes related to the return process. Since October 2000, when the second government of President Emile Lahoud was in place after the parliamentary elections, there is a clear political will to end the return of the displaced before the end of 2002, to grant the Ministry of the Displaced with the necessary funds and to activate this process with concrete actions such as social and economic development of the return villages, coupled with reconciliation programs.

This second phase is best illustrated by the interview that the Lebanese NGO Forum has conducted with the Minister of the Displaced, Mr. Marwan Hamade, in January 2001, and by the Press Conference that the Minister has given in May 2001.

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Press Conference of Mr. Marwan Hamade,
Minister of the Displaced

In a press conference held on Wednesday 23 May 2001, the Minister of the Displaced, Mr. Marwan Hamade reiterated that the "displaced file" would be closed within a year, stressing that tangible actions were required to encourage the return of the second-generation displaced and support the area's agricultural potential. He added: "had the UNDP efforts been linked to the ministry projects earlier, these projects would have significantly contributed to balanced development."

Mr. Hamade listed the achievements made by the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations, to boost the return of the displaced. He expressed his hope that these projects will improve the situation of the returnees and will motivate them to settle down permanently.

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I - ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE M.O.D (Ministry Of the Displaced)

Several projects were initiated and implemented on the agricultural, educational, social and cultural levels, which resulted in consolidating partially the settlement of the returnees and in supporting the residents.

1. On the educational level
- organizing sessions on children's rights in public schools in the cazas of Chouf, Aley and Baabda, in collaboration with the "Lebanese Red Cross"

- organizing training sessions for public schools intermediary level teachers on outdoors activities and ways to develop them in public schools, in collaboration with the "Lebanese School for Social Training"

- organizing training sessions for public schools secondary level teachers on education on democracy, in collaboration with the "movement for the Rights of People"

- organizing training sessions on consolidating reconciliation as one of the means to social and human development, in collaboration with the "Movement for Permanent Peace"

- providing all secondary public schools in the cazas of Chouf, Aley and Baabda with information technology equipment serving 6614 students; 87 elementary and intermediary schools with eye and ear equipment benefiting 12648 pupils.

- providing 78 public kinder garden classes with leisure and educational equipment for 1920 kids.
- Initiation of the 'school health program' from which some 12000 students in 95 public schools gained access to medical checkups and medicine, in collaboration with the "Farah Association".

2. On the 'youth' level
- 18 youth clubs were provided with computers and sports equipment

- supporting infrastructure for sports activities, such as the construction and equipment of 19 public playgrounds and courts.

3. On the health level
- Seven health centers in Chouf, Aley and Baabda cazas were supplied with advanced medical equipment allowing local residents with to receive healthcare services at almost no cost.

4. On the agricultural level
- creation of 12,5 km of irrigation canals
- opening and rehabilitation of 20,5 km of cultural roads
- creation and rehabilitation of 10 reservoirs
- rehabilitation of 15 natural springs
- rehabilitation of 3 public gardens
- supplying farmers with agricultural equipment

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Mr. Hamade declared that the joint project between the ministry and the UNDP was coordinated with municipalities and agricultural cooperatives. This project included agricultural training and provided modernized equipment to farming cooperatives to enhance the quality of crops without incurring high costs:

1. The agricultural education plan
- creation of agricultural cooperatives for better profit
- assessment of agricultural projects and feasibility studies (workshop in process)
- olive tree cultivation: principles and methods of cultivation, treatment of tree disease, soap production, quality improvement, industrial options, soap production, olive oil extraction, etc.

2. Participation in creating olive cultivation in the villages of:
- Baaklin
- Ramlyeh

3. Providing the agricultural coops with equipment to test acidity of olive oil

4. Activating a laboratory to test olive oil in Beiteddine and introducing other tests

5. Providing coops with different agricultural equipment

6. Support of the agricultural infrastructure

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