||The Lebanese Government and
- First Phase 1991 - 1999
- Second Phase 1999-2002
1- FIRST PHASE OF THE
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.
daily life of the displaced people
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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
- 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
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
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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
· Objective 1: To rehabilitate the
reconstruction sights in the areas of return.
· Objective 2: To rehabilitate the
· 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
· Objective 5: To rehabilitate the
productive economical sectors.
· Objective 6: Achieving
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
- Attempts to evict people from illegally
occupied houses without corresponding provision for their resettlement
- Political tensions and controversies between
(Information from the Norwegian Refugee Council
report, Internally Displaced People, a global survey).
SECOND PHASE 1999 -
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
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.
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
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I - ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE M.O.D (Ministry Of
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
- 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
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
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
- supplying farmers with agricultural equipment
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II - FUTURE PLAN OF ACTION
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)
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:
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
6. Support of the agricultural
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