Immediately following the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the majority of Palestinians were expelled from Israel. They fled and settled as refugees in camps throughout the Middle East, including several in Lebanon. This event came to be known to them as al-nakba, or the catastrophe. Since then, many changes in leadership have plagued the Lebanese camps, each further institutionalizing the camps and services. These changes, combined with dwindling resources and discrimination by the Lebanese government, have created a hostile environment for the refugees. This institutionalization can be seen in several ways: via the establishment of aid organizations to control, monitor and provide services to the refugee population, the construction of hospitals, schools and homes, and the establishment of an educational system specifically devoted to the refugees.

Despite this, the Palestinian refugees’ status in Lebanon is simultaneously and counterintuitively impermanent. A notable lack of personal and community security has been created through discrimination in education and lawmaking against registered, unregistered and non-ID refugees, and inferior established services and education. These many issues, combined with the knowledge that they could be expelled from Lebanon at any moment, makes for a precarious situation. The very existence of such camps in resourcestarved nations, such as Lebanon, helps to exacerbate the alienation of refugees, as well as their dependence on foreign aid. It also increases tension between refugees and their host countries, which promotes an attitude of hostility that has often led to violence. The passing of power between the Lebanese government, the United Nations Refugee Works Association or UNRWA, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, has destabilized the camps and caused confusion over responsibilities, which have resulted in many of the refugees’ needs being neglected, as well as restriction of the upward mobility of refugees.



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