These are worrying times for Lebanon; in late December a bomb exploded in the capital, Beirut, killing a former finance minister as well as at least four others. Days later, on 2 January, a car bomb in a southern suburb of the city killed five.
Though the attacks were far from the first to afflict the country, they did suggest that 2014 could be another difficult year as the small Mediterranean state seeks to maintain a fragile peace.
The country is in many ways a prisoner to wider regional trends; the civil war next door in Syria is increasing tension at home, while the political and sectarian polarization seen across the Middle East is playing out in the religiously diverse state. The country is also approaching political paralysis; it has gone without a government since March 2013, as the two rival factions, 14 March and 8 March, engage in seemingly fruitless negotiations.
In this context, one could forgive Lebanese for not wanting anything else that might cause further dispute. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), due to finally start on Thursday, is just that.
This article originally appeared on IRIN, the United Nations’ press wire. “If they throw us out, we will end up in the sea,” Zahar Sayed Ghadbaan says, her anger not entirely disguised by the joking tone. “We have nowhere else to go but here,” she says, gesturing towards the small hand-built home with a corrugated iron roof. The Ghadbaan family is one of 75 in the Palestinian gathering, or informal settlement, of Qasmiyeh in south Lebanon, where they are living with the prospect that their homes might be destroyed. Like many of Lebanon’s estimated 280,000 Palestinians, the family came to the country in 1948 after being evicted from their homes by Israelis. Now, 65 years later, they could be facing a second eviction. Qasmiyeh, unlike other areas where Palestinians have established homes, is not part of an official refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There are 12 such camps, recognized by the Lebanese government as holding official status under UNRWA management and the residents are protected against eviction. Read the rest of the article hereMarathon_Map_annie.jpgAir strikes March 2015