Background on Nahr El Bared Camp (NBC)

NBC: literally: Cold River, it was established in December 1949 by the League of Red Cross Societies in order to accommodate the Palestinian refugees suffering from the difficult winter conditions in the different places in the country. The camp was established outside any major Lebanese towns, which left it isolated from Lebanese society more than any other camps in Lebanon.

Nahr al-Bared is located in northern Lebanon, 16km from the city of Tripoli. Despite this, due to its position on the main road to Syria and its proximity to the Syrian border, NBC became central commercial place for the surrounding Lebanese region, its villages and towns.

Nahr al-Bared is made up of the “official” or “old” camp and the “unofficial” or “new” camp. The “old” camp is roughly 2km2 and is under the responsibility of UNRWA. The “new” camp extends mainly to the north of the old camp, but also to lesser degrees to the east and south. It is more spacious and many of the wealthier families have built their homes there in the past years.

Background on the crisis and the current situation

Late night of Saturday 19th May 2007, a building was surrounded in Tripoli by Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) in which a group of Fatah al-Islam militants accused of taking part in a bank robbery earlier that day and were hiding. The ISF attacked the building early on Sunday 20th May 2007, unleashing a day long battle between the ISF and Fatah al-Islam militants on 200 Street – Tripoli. Meanwhile members of Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared Camp (16km from Tripoli) attacked an army checkpoint, killing several soldiers in their sleep. The army immediately responded by shelling NBC camp.

For more than 3 months and a half, the camp has been at the centre of the fighting between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. It has sustained heavy shelling while under siege. The old camp was completely demolished, while the adjacent area of the camp is partially destroyed, with full destruction of its infrastructure, while the houses were burnt and robbed.

Some days and hours of unannounced ceasefire allowed almost all the camp’s inhabitants of 6174 families of 31499 members to be evacuated. The last civilians (25 women and 38 children, the families of Fatah al-Islam members) were evacuated from the camp on Friday 24th August. Most of the inhabitants fled to the nearby Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp or further south to Tripoli, Beirut, Saida and Tyre camps.

The conflict between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam ended on Sunday 2nd September with the Lebanese Army fully control the entrances of the camp, the camp, and all its adjacent area.

On Monday 10th September, due to the lack of reconstruction funding for NBC, the Lebanese government organized donor conference to collect fund for this purpose, as well as for 6 Lebanese municipalities affected by the northern armed clash.  

On 12th February 2008, press conference was conducted by the Lebanese prime minister, general director of UNRWA, head of PLO in Lebanon, and the architects who were working on a reconstruction master plan of the old camp. The master plan was introduced and focused on reconstructing the camp on almost its previous size and land. The rebuilding will be horizontally and vertically with maximum four floors. Relative families will be provided family building units according the number of their members. The camp will be divided into 6 sections/districts. The cost of the reconstruction as estimated by the mater plan sets up at 174.14 million $. In case the fund is secured for the plan the reconstruction will start in parallel in the six sections in August 2008 and it will finish in August 2010. The master plan was approved by the Lebanese prim minister and it will be submitted to the Arab countries and international community to collect fund for it.

The Lebanese Army is still forcing a strict and armed blockade on the camp, especially the old camp that still restricted area. Inhabitants and local NGOs are allowed to enter NB adjacent area by getting permits, while it’s restricted and limited to the old camp. (They are allowed to stay in the old camp just for 15 minutes). In addition, the number those who allow entering to the old camp is only 40 families per day to check their properties. That means NB inhabitants will need at least 6 months to check their homes.

The Palestinian inhabitants of the adjacent area were allowed to return back to their homes. Lebanese government and army imposed tough procedures against NBC inhabitants, returnees, UN agencies, local and INGOs’ are allowed to enter the adjacent area only by getting permits that issue by the Lebanese army. Permits allow humanitarian employees to get into the camp during the working hours and days, and not for nights. Thus, the permits are restricted by hours and the days.

As for the NBC inhabitants, 6174 families of 31,499 members, were registered by AN as IDPs. The majority of them (at 83%) were hosted in Baddawi camp, and at homes (at 82%), while the remaining were hosted in Beirut, Sidon, Tyre and Beqaa camps (see the attached table 1). Its to be noted that some hundreds of the IDPs who were hosted in the regions and other camps started to move back to Baddawi camp after the ceasefire. Thus, the number of those decreased from 1065 families to 668 families by Sep 07.

In addition, the overwhelming majority of the IDPs are Palestinians, at 97% are Palestinians, and minor rate is Lebanese at 3%, while those who have other nationality set up at 0% (20 families only). The rate of women bread winner, divorced, widowed, and lost their husbands sat up at 13%. The percentage of hardship families registered by UNRWA sat up at 33%.

At another level, during the first month of the crisis the majority of Baddawi camp inhabitants offered their homes and extra garages freely to the IDPs. One month later, when it became obvious that the crisis is ongoing and will continue for longer time, Baddaw’s inhabitants requested IDPs who are hosted by them to leave the apartments, rooms, or paying rental fees. Moreover, all prices rate, including rental fees, prices of food, vegetables, cloths, increased since the crisis.

In 10th October, residents of NB new camp were allowed to return back to their homes. Meanwhile, cleaning rubbles in the new camp is slowly ongoing by UNRWA under the control of Lebanese army, who sat up check points at the entrances of camp as well as inside it. It’s obvious that there is no healthy environment for living conditions in the new camp and there is need for environmental and infrastructure works in the area.

Palestinians who reside in the new camp have to register all the names of their families with Lebanese army and UNRWA. Three entrances with Lebanese army check points opened sat up. Palestinian refugees and visitors are allowed to enter to the camp by passing through the Lebanese army check points only.

As for the education and schools: UNRWA schools in Baddawi have been occupied by the IDPs since the beginning of the crisis. Due to the lack of providing alternatives, UNRWA schools couldn’t start the scholastic year at the end of Sep-beginning of Oct. During Dec. two prefab schools for Baddawi and Bared students were allocated in Baddawi camp, while two schools were rented close to NBC. Its to be noted that each one schools of these is accommodating 3 schools that run in day and double shifts. The students of NB new camp are moving daily by UNRWA busses to schools in Tripoli, and they have to pass through all army procedures and check points.

Local coping strategies and intervention

However, during May and first half of June, the Lebanese Army gave permits to UNRWA, ICRC, PRCS and Association Najdeh to enter NBC camp and providing emergency aids and medical supplies to the remaining civilians inside the camp. Its to be noted that the last food emergency assistance provided to NBC inhabitants was distributed in 30 May by Association Najdeh.

During May and June, UNRWA, PRCS & ICRC provided NBC population by medication and medicine supplies while Najdeh have managed to provide the NBC with food rations, water and bread. In addition, PARD in cooperation with AN, provided the population with additional amount of drinking water and hygiene kits. Relief assistance to NBC has been suspended due to the intensified armed conflict.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) evacuated by their ambulances wounded, disabled, and sick persons from the camp with extreme difficulties and dangerous.

The overwhelming majority of local and international NGOs focused on the IDPs who fled to Baddawi camp, and just few local NGOs (including AN) worked with the IDPs in other regions and camps. Thus, the IDPs in Baddawi camp were providing by Food, drinkable and usable water, medicine, summer cloths, and hygiene kits.

UNRWA is in charge of the relief work especially distributing monthly food parcels, blankets, shelter (renovated, or constructed, or prefab shelter). Its to be noted that food parcels were not distributed over the IDPs by UNRWA since two months, while the quality of these, of the blankets as well as the first prefabricating rooms were bad.

The hospitalization is fully covered by UNRWA for the IDPs hosted in Baddawi camp. As for the IDPs who fled to other camps they have to move to northern Lebanon in order to receive treatment or hospitalization services, otherwise they are not allow to receive this service.  At another hand, the majority of local and international NGOs had short terms emergency plan. Thus, they had limited access to funding that affects the quantity of emergency aids as well as the number of targeted beneficiaries.

Its to be noted that the majority of local and INGOs had no fund for the 2nd phase of recovery period (post war) for NBC and its inhabitants, and only one local NGO (Nabaa) distributed gaze heaters over limited number of IDPs.   As for educational assistance, especially scholarships for students in the universities, in addition to AN social affairs program that provides scholarships, two NGOs one of them is donor (Association Welfare) while the other one is local (Al Ghad Association) secured scholarships and fees for NB university students.

As for the 2nd phase, Welfare Association will provide NB Beirut Arab university students by the 1st installment of their fees.  Psychosocial intervention: three local NGOs have been targeting children through their psychosocial programs and these are AN, GUPW, and Nabaa.

Its to be noted that AN targets also women within its psychosocial emergency program. The mentioned local NGOs launched the psychosocial project that targeted the IDPs in Baddawi throughout their centers or/and separate centers and schools. During the crisis AN targeted more than 750 children in its centers in Baddawi, separate center and one of UNRWA schools.

In addition, Handicap International supported and contributed to psychosocial project that targets 350 children and ran by AN and GUPW.

Psychosocial activities were provided to these children who attended the animation center in Baddawi camp.  Recovery period: in addition to the mentioned above information, the following stockholders, local and INGOs have been working with the IDPs and returnees:

  1. Lebanese High Relief Committee via future movement cooperates with UNRWA and PLO office in Lebanon by distributing daily hot meals to the IDPs in Baddawi camp, as well as to returnees in NBC.
  2. UNRWA has been providing the IDPs in all regions with food ration, although IDPs clam against the quantity and quality of it. It also delivered some of the IDPs with NFI, mainly mattress and blankets. Moreover, the hospitalization is fully covered for the IDPs hosted in Baddawi by UNRWA. IDPs fled to other camps they have to move back to northern Lebanon to receive fully hospitalization and treatment by UNRWA.
  3. Three international NGOs (PU, ACTED, and NRC) have been carrying out on quick fixing in the adjacent area of NBC for lightly damaged houses.
  4. Clinics: two clinics were resumed its health services in the new camp and these are: PRSC and UNRWA.
  5. In the adjacent area of NBC the following NGOs are providing the following services:
    1. UNRWA provides sanitation, water and water tanks, prefab, and food package.
    2. UNICEF: provides tutorial classes, hygiene kits, and water.
    3. Islamic Relief provides water and working in fixing the water pipes and sewage system
    4. Hamas provides daily 1000 bundle of bread
    5. General Union of Palestinian Women provides pre school education in 2 KGs
    6. Palestinian Arab Women (PAWAL) provides cash for income generating projects
    7. PARD provides boilers especially for the prefab houses and rooms.
    8. NRC in cooperation with AN provided blankets and gas heaters for those who were accommodated in collective centers.
    9. AN opened one center in the adjacent area and it provides the following regular programs: the active learning educational program for 169 children age between 3-5 years old, psychosocial intervention for 67 children age between 6-18 years old, tutorial classes for 43 students, and literacy classes for 22 children. Moreover, in cooperation with Caritas – Lebanon AN provided returnees with food, while through its cooperation with Association Welfare it provided the each family of the returnees by 2 blankets. In addition, AN cooperates with NRC by providing it with volunteers and local staff, distributing heaters and blankets over 613 families of returnees in prefab and collective centers, and re-registering the returnees.

Association Najdeh regular activities and program in northern camps:

  1. Throughout its new center in NB adjacent area, AN resumed the following programs:
    1. The active learning program – Mother and Child- for children of 2-5 years old was resumed for the returnee children. 171 children attend AN NB KG, and these were distributed over classes according to their age. The KG in NB is running in double shift, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Two animators work in implementing the daily program with the children. Due to the high number of the children, and the limited capacity of the animators, there is need to contract 7 volunteers for the whole scholastic year.
    2. The popular education program in NB camp was resumed with 74 students that they distributed over the classes as follows:- One literacy class with 12 students- Four tutorial classes with 62 students. Its to be noted that there is need for additional staff and volunteers to implement the daily activities of the popular education program. These additional staff fees and salaries will be covered by Karim Rida Said Foundation (KRSF) contribution. An agreement with KRSF was signed for the scholastic year 2007-2009 on the popular education program in north. Due to the northern crisis and the stopping of all programs, the starting duration of the agreement was postponed to the beginning of year 2008. Thus, the new staff of PE (which is three) is excluded from the emergency 2nd phase project and staff, and were included with KRSF project.
    3. The psychosocial program was resumed and 67 children benefit from the daily activities in NB. Two volunteers will be contracted for one year to run the daily activities with the animators and social workers.
    4. Equipment for 2 vocational training courses (hairdressing, photography and montage course) were purchased. The two courses were selected due to the demand and the internal opportunity for job placement. Registration for the courses is ongoing and they will be stated at the beginning of March.
    5. The violence against women is ongoing program and it didn’t stop during the crisis. It was transferred to NB after the end of the crisis. It will target 225 beneficiaries through 9 educational and awareness raising workshops. Three groups will be formed in NBC, one out of these is with volunteers and for them. In addition, 50 cases subjected to violence will benefit from social and legal counseling services and aids.
    6. New project on therapy for staff and traumatized women in NB has been launched in Feb. 2008. The project includes 3 ongoing training sessions for 44 staff members of northern branch, especially NB staff. The training will include debriefing and therapy work and training with the staff. The project will also target 100 traumatized women in NBC. Its one year project funded by Swedish NGO called (Kvinna till Kvinna).
    7. The income generating project, Al Badia will increase the number of the embroidery workers in NB from 25 to 50 workers, thus providing job opportunity for them.
    8. Social Affairs program will be resumed and target poor families, hardship families and persons to providing them with grant for scholarships and surgeries.
  2. The regular activities in Baddawi camp include:
    1. Active learning program, Mother and Child program, the KG, for children of  Baddawi camp, as well as the IDPs from NBC. The scholastic year was started in the KG in double shift one mixed shift in the morning for the children of Bared (two classes with 50 children) and Baddawi (71 children attend the classes) camps. The afternoon daily work shift target 137 IDP children distributed over 5 classes. Due to the limited capacity of the animators and the high number of the children there is need for additional 5 contracted staff and volunteers in Baddawi KG.
    2. The popular education program has been resumed with 84 students. These were distributed over literacy classes (two groups of 24 students/12 per group), and tutorial classes (4 groups of 60 students).
    3. The psychosocial activities that worked with around 950 during the crisis, resumed its activities with Baddawi and Bared children. It targets 120 children throughout its daily activities. Two additional animators, volunteers, will be contracted to implement the daily plan with the children, mothers, and local community.
    4. VT planned courses are 6 and as followings: Hairdressing, photography and montage, accounting and informatics, 2 computer courses and one computer maintenance.
    5. The violence against women program will target 20 groups with 6 educational workshops and 150 beneficiaries.
    6. Social Affairs Program will be resumed and target poor families, hardship families and persons to providing them with grant for scholarships and surgeries.

Thus, it’s obvious that there is need to contract 16 volunteers at the regular programs, especially the mother and child program (12) and psychosocial intervention (4). These volunteers (7 in the KG and 2 at the psychosocial intervention in Bared, and 5 in Baddawi and Bared KG and 2 in psychosocial in Baddawi camp) will be contracted for one year. The contract with the volunteers will secure job opportunities for these for one scholastic year. The volunteers will be selected according to their skills, educational level and experience. All volunteers – new animators will be trained on the active learning approach as well as child protection, child abuse, animation, psychosocial intervention, and other related topics.  The remaining number of volunteers will be contracted to implement the emergency relief project.

The volunteers will be included within educational, awareness raising workshops on violence, discrimination, human rights, women and child rights, Human rights and international legal standards: what do relief workers need to know, including protection and assistance.

Outdoor and enjoyment activities will be carried out for the returnees and IDPs in the both camps, such as organizing wedding parties, Palestinian performances, exhibitions, etc.

Description of Agency Involvement

AN has long experience in emergency, urgency, and relief work. It was established during the civil war in 1977 and its first project aimed to empower and relief Palestinian refugee women who were displaced from Tel El Zater Camp and became headed of their houses. Thus, income generating project, jointly with emergency aid, was established and achieved. Also, during the Israeli invasion to Lebanon in 1982 AN implemented an emergency and relief programme. The emergency programme focused on food and NFIs distribution. It targeted also injured persons who were provided by sorts of assistance and aid, such as medicine and cloths. In addition, during the war against the camps in 1985-1989 AN provided different kinds of emergency aids and targeted families and persons in the camps, mainly in Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre. The emergency aids included construction materials, food and NFIs for displaced families and individuals, medical and essential assistance for injured people. The emergent and relief work was provided to families and persons who were subjected to violence and aggression.

In addition, association Najdeh: has long experience on emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. After the Israeli invasion and the destruction on Ein El Helweh camp in 1982, AN worked on renovating 200 homes in the camp. Also, during the war against the camps (85-90) AN rehabilitated and reconstructed more than 300 homes in Shatila camp and its surrounding areas.

During last Israeli attack to Lebanon in June 2006, AN launched and emergency project that focused on two levels; relief and psychosocial program. More than 13,000 families victimized and affected by the war were assisted throughout this project.

Almost all AN staff are social workers and were trained on social work. AN has around 70 permanent staff who trained on relief and urgent work. Its staff are distributed over regions, in 10 camps and 5 gatherings. Simultaneously, its staff works in awareness raising activities and workshops among Palestinian refugees in and around the camps. Moreover, AN has around 75 contractual staff who are members of local community, have experience, and well trusted from the community. During July war and post war projects more than 72 Palestinian and Lebanese volunteers involved in carrying out these projects. During the northern crisis more than 200 young volunteers, especially from Bared camp were involved in implementing the emergency project that included social visits, filling questionnaires, collecting data, data entry, distribution, and making animation activities within the psychosocial daily activities. These volunteers were trained during the crisis on emergency work and animation work with children and local community. The majority of those were volunteered after the ceasefire to clean the rubble in the new camp in NB and had daily voluntary work in support the returnees to resettle in their homes.

Indicate in-country capacity of agency including staffing plans and duration of staff presence

AN has 34 centers in 10 camps and some other gatherings. It’s staff are mainly women and members from local community. At another level, 16 NGOs are members of a Coordination forum of NGOs working among Palestinians in Lebanon. AN is a member in this forum and heads the women sub committee. Although all these NGOs are working in the fields of pre-school education, vocational training, and health, they are not covering the huge needs of the local community. Among these NGOs, AN is the only women NGO that targets mainly women, while others target children, youth and the local community in general.

Since 2000, conservative Islamist trends/groups have also increased their presence in the Palestinian camps, providing services and financial support to the refugee population. The conservative trends promote a model that affects children and youth and increases the traditional constraints on women, thus affecting the community as a whole. At another level, during the first half of 2006, Islamic trends try to impose their social vision on NGOs’ work and activities. Thus, AN launched an initiative of developing its own code of conduct and conducted training workshops with other NGOs on it.

Najdeh has a leading role among the local NGOs working in the refugee camps. AN is a member of several local, regional and international networks. On the local level, AN is member of the Palestinian coordination forum and has wide contacts with NGOs working among the Lebanese community such as CRTD-A, ARC, EPEP, Health Department at American University of Beirut, Beirut Arab University and San Joseph University. It also has cooperation with the UNWRA Social Affairs, Educational and Engineer Departments.

On the Lebanese official level, AN cooperates with some Lebanese ministries and committees, such as the Social Affairs Ministry, Educational and Health Ministries, Lebanese – Palestinian Dialogue committee, and Lebanese army officers.

Additionally, the organization has good contacts and relationships with EU delegation in Lebanon, and with some other Embassies such as: British, French, Canadian, and Greek embassies. Association Najdeh has strong regional and international networking links with AISHA, the Women’s Commission, IRC, and UNICEF. AN is also a member of relevant Euro Med networks such as RIADE, Spanish network, and SIFRA, micro finance network. Association Najdeh benefits in its various programs from a large pool of volunteers, especially through CEPAL and UNIPAL, the Canadian and British volunteer NGOs.

The majority of AN staff have been working with it since 10 years and above. A considerable number have been working with AN since it was established. Just few number of its staff working since short time, although the majority of those had volunteered at AN for few years and have good knowledge and experience on its work. Key members and persons, such as the coordinators of programmes, branches, and external relations committee are capable to carry out, follow up, and evaluate the plan of their programmes and branches.


Since the northern crisis AN cooperates with the followings:

  1. All local and INGOs who involve in the Food and NFI, and shelter cluster committees. These are the followings: UNRWA, NRC, ACTED, PU, MPDL, INCO, WVI, CISP, IRD, ARCHI, PARD, WA, NABAA, AID LEBANON, IGASS, ICRC, DRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, IPDC, ECHO, CARITAS, and ASSOCIATION NAJDEH.
  2. With some of the above mentioned local and INGOs Association Najdeh closely cooperates. Agreements were signed with some in carrying out some of the emergency and relief work in north and other regions such as; AN cooperates with DRC in implementing food, NFI and tool kits for the IDPs in Beirut camps, while had agreement with NRC to distribute blankets and heaters for 613 families in the collective centers and constructed rooms who returned back to the new camp. It also cooperated with Caritas in distributing food and NFI for the IDPs in Beqaa, Beirut, Tyre, and Baddawi camp. In addition, AN collaborated with PU in conducting needs assessment on tool kit project for 15 of their ex beneficiaries who fled to Baddawi camp. The filed of cooperation with ACTED focused on providing them with volunteers to provide IDPs in Baddawi camp with water, while it provided UNRWA with two plumbers from NBC to work in the public schools that hosted IDPs in Baddawi town during the crisis.
  3. As for the official level AN cooperates with the Lebanese – Palestinian Dialogue Committee on the situation and plan of Lebanese government on NBC. It also collaborate with the Lebanese army officers in order to facilitate transferring goods, relief items, equipments to NB adjacent area as well as the volunteers movement to and from the NB camp.
  4. In the local level – in the field in NBC, AN cooperates closely with PAWAL, PARD, CBR, PRSC, PU, NRC, ACTED, Nabaa, and UNRWA.
  5. In addition, close cooperation is ongoing between AN and some international NGOs working among Palestinians such as; PU: French NGO, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), ACTED (French NGO) and Handicap International.