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The Internally Displaced Persons



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  1. October 1998

    • 24 October 98:
      Political and sectarian considerations are often cited as the main reasons why thousands of families displaced during the war have yet to return to their homes.
      But a close look at what their native villages have to offer, unveils a host of other problems-inadequate schools and health services and, of course, the perpetual complaints of a severe lack of funds to rebuild their homes.
      Like many of the Christian Chouf villages, Majd el Maouch was abandoned during the war.
      The ministry of the displaced has been trying to get the displaced to return but the lack of services has held many back.
      Of a total of 600 families, only 35 have returned.
      In this village, there is one public school. Five hundred chairs and desks are filled by 55 students from eight villages.
      Aware of many problems which are impending the return of the displaced, a UNDP branch, the UN Reintegration and Socio-Economic Rehabilitation of the displaced program, has been working for four years to provide the displaced with basic services.
      The UNDP also helps the ministry of the displaced to formulate their plans and successfully convinced it to establish a department for social development. To further assess the area's needs, the UNDP brought staff to tour the region. The program has also attracted "the largest number of UN volunteers", added al Hosn.
      Leading the UNDP group, the project's assistant project manager, Walid Atallah, introduced the staff to the region.
      Yet, poor schools and health facilities are not the only factors discouraging the return of the displaced.
      Of 237 families that lived in the once prosperous Mazraat el Dahr, only 36 have returned.
      In 1995, the ministry began paving the way for those who wanted to return. Refugees were evicted and returnees allocated funds-payable in three installments- to rebuild their homes. But, financial problems prevented the ministry of the displaced from paying the third installment.
      The many abandoned and half-constructed buildings littering the region are testimony to the difficulties faced by the ministry in bringing people back home.

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