Refugees in Limbo

The Plight of Iraqis in Bordering States

by Madona Mokbel
published in MER244

Long lines of Iraqis form early in the morning at the compound of a Damascus non-profit agency that provides social services for Iraqi refugees. About 100 men, women and children patiently wait their turn to meet with the agency’s case workers. Some of the older women begin to tire and move slowly away from the line to sit on benches located along the compound’s old walls. Most of the men remain standing in the queue. They are busy attending to their young children, while their wives are caring for the babies. Most look anxious, and they fidget, wary of the long wait ahead. To pass the time, some make small talk, but generally the crowd is quiet.

Unsettling the Categories of Displacement

by Julie Peteet
published in MER244

The Middle East has long had the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s major producers of refugees. By the beginning of 2007, the Middle East was generating 5,931,000 refugees out of a world total of 13,948,800. Over the past century, not just conflict but development projects, environmental disasters and state-mandated settlement of nomads have driven people from their homes. [1]

Of Reactivism and Relief

by Mayssun Sukarieh
published in MER244

As with every crisis that befalls the Palestinians in Lebanon, the Lebanese army’s siege of the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp impelled hundreds of people to pitch in with the relief effort. After fighting broke out in late May, and over 30,000 Nahr al-Barid residents fled to the nearby Baddawi camp, volunteers ferried food, blankets and medicine to the displaced. Such “humanitarian assistance,” along with petitions and open letters calling for protecting civilians, was all that pro-Palestinian Lebanese and international activists could think of to do as the army lobbed shells into the camp outside Tripoli. The needs of the displaced are indeed great, but many Palestinians wish their supporters would focus their energies elsewhere.