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Lebanon: Update to LBN36249.E of 20 January 2001 on tensions between pro-Syrian and pro-Arafat factions in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 29 July 2002
Citation / Document Symbol LBN39656.E
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lebanon: Update to LBN36249.E of 20 January 2001 on tensions between pro-Syrian and pro-Arafat factions in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp, 29 July 2002, LBN39656.E, available at: [accessed 1 December 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Little information on tensions between pro-Syrian and pro-Arafat factions in the Ein el-Hilweh camp since January 2001 could be found among sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In February 2002, an Agence France Presse article reported the feeling among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon that Arafat is their "historic leader" (12 Feb. 2002). The article stated that this feeling is similar in the Ein el-Hilweh camp, among the Islamists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad (ibid.). However, Munir Maqdah, a Fatah official inside Ein el-Hilweh who stands against the Oslo accords and is linked to pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian Islamists, stated that he is "with him [Arafat] so long as he fights Israel with weapons" (ibid.).

In August 2001, an article published in Middle East International stated the following on recent changes in Syria's role in camp politics:

Palestinian marginality is equally illustrated by a recent Syrian tilt in favour of Arafat's Fateh, formerly excluded from most of Lebanon except Rashidiyyeh camp. Damascus's desire to build good relations with political Maronitism, and to keep its ties with political Shi'ism sweet, generally rules out overt support for Palestinians. However the ascendence of Sharon to power closed the door to Syrian/Israeli negotiations, and gave a powerful jolt to the regional chessboard. One of the resulting shifts is the possibility of a Syrian/PLO/Lebanese strategic alliance. Though this is a card in Arafat's hand rather than an imminent development, it has already translated into greater freedom for Arafatists to spread and mobilize in the camps in Lebanon (10 Aug. 2001).

However, an article from conveys the heterogeneity of allegiances to various factions in the Ein el-Hilweh camp as follows:

The Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp is a place where one can find in the same household pictures of three different Palestinian leaders raised by three brothers, each dreaming of one day returning to his homeland.
As the country's largest refugee camp, it is home to followers of diverse parties, organizations and ideologies, and all armed factions, both pro-Syrian and others supporting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
In the camp's streets, an office for the Syrian-backed Saiqa organization sits next to one for Arafat's Fatah movement. On Tuesday, a day before the start of the Arab League summit in Beirut, the refugees in this camp outside Sidon expressed sentiments as varied as the political groups with which they are aligned (27 Mar. 2002).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 12 February 2002. "'Historic' Arafat Has no Trouble Staying Relevant." [Accessed 25 July 2002] 27 March 2002. Mohammed Zaatari. "Ain Al-Hilweh Divided Over Confab's Chances." [Accessed 26 July 2002]

Middle East International. 10 August 2001. Rosemary Sayigh. "No Work, No Space, No Future: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon." [Accessed 24 July 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Al-Ahram Weekly [Cairo]

IRB Databases


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

BBC News

Daily Star [Beirut]

Human Rights Watch

Immigration and Nationality Directorate, United Kingdom

Middle East Intelligence Bulletin (MEIB)

Middle East International

Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)


L'Orient Le Jour


United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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