The Dilemma of the Displaced
by: Elias Bejjani

The ongoing Lebanese crisis will remain without a final, permanent solution as long as the four hundred fifty thousand displaced Lebanese victims (inside Lebanon) are not entirely returned to their villages and towns. They must return with dignity and honor and not as losers and slaves. The internal, critically bleeding Lebanese war-wound will never heal as long as the displaced are not provided full legal and practical support to reclaim their houses, land and other confiscated properties.

Lebanon is the only country in the whole world at the present time where almost one sixth of its population are displaced in their own country and by their own people. The Syrian-installed Lebanese regime has supposedly spent eight hundred million US dollars during the last nine years to secure the return of the displaced. But in reality, ninety percent of this money was distributed to those who committed the crime of displacement and not to the displaced victims themselves.

It is a bizarre equation where those who killed, tortured, stole and committed all kinds of atrocities against their own people, were paid for their crimes while the victims continue to be ignored and their rights neglected. It is well documented that the Lebanese regime is abusing the displaced, manipulating their dilemma to serve the interests of the criminals, including high-ranking officials and foreign forces of occupation.

The last media war (last July) between the then- minister for the displaced Mr. Walid Jumblat, and former Prime Minister Mr. Rafic Hariri unveiled many scandals that haunted the displaced citizens. Hariri, for example, accused Jumblat of forgery, nepotism, favoritism, abuse of authority and embezzlement. In a press release distributed to the media. Hariri disclosed documents revealing that Jumblat submitted a list of 1250 families (loyal to him) to whom compensations were paid for the inhabitants of Kfar Nabrakh, a village in Al-Chouf area, a village whose actual inhabitants number no more than 280 families. This scandal and hundreds of similar atrocities were not secret at all, and every Lebanese was fully aware of them. But it was the first time in eight years, the officials of the regime themselves revealed such crimes and were forced to admit their occurrence. In spite of all the serious accusations that were, and are still, being exchanged publicly, not even one official was charged or even questioned by the judiciary.

The displaced case is dealt with in accordance to a barbaric criterion and all funds allocated for the return of the displaced are abused and embezzled by the same leaders who precipitated the dilemma. Only 20% of the displaced have been able to return during the last nine years while the funds haphazardly spent up till now were initially estimated to cover the return of all the displaced in all Lebanon.

The dilemma of the displaced, as well as all other numerous Syrian-imposed problems will not be solved before the withdrawal of all Syrian and Israelis troops and their proxies from all Lebanon. The ongoing occupation devastating status quo will remain as is and worsen as long as the people of Lebanon are not allowed to freely communicate with each other, and are forbidden from practicing democracy in electing their own representatives with full freedom.

In occupied Lebanon, the regime and since 1990 has been handling the affairs of its own people with double standards, not only regarding the displaced, but also in all areas. The majority of the people are treated as second and even third-class citizens. Patriotic leaders who refused to accept the Syrian hegemony are killed, jailed, or sent into exile while their money and properties are confiscated.

On the other hand, warlords, Mafia figures, traitors, criminals, thieves and capitalists who sold their conscience, are made Presidents, ministers and high-ranking officials. Those who displaced the majority of the people were made ministers for the displacement for eight years. Those who committed massacres are integrated into the judicial body, and those who destroyed electricity generators, damaged water supplies and demolished Lebanon’s infrastructure, are entrusted to rebuild the country.

The newly appointed Minister for the displaced, Mr. Anwar Khalil is known to be non-sectarian and honest in his conduct. It is hoped that with this Minister the return of the displaced would be removed from the political bazaar and every displaced person can legally get what he deserves until not a single Lebanese remains away from home, or a stranger in his own country. The distinguished republic of Lebanon has existed 6000 years on pillars of coexistence, multiculturalism, respect for human rights, freedom of worship and speech, peace and consensual democracy. This distinguished Lebanon shall never be the same without a just, enduring solution to the dilemma of the displaced.

Long Live Free Lebanon
Canada, January 25/1999