The humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon has become one of the most populist causes in the world, yet the causes of the crisis have been misrepresented, whilst on-going humanitarian assistance could arguably be said to amplify problems that exist in the camps. Shedding light on the disturbing occurrence of corruption, rent-seeking and racketeering, together with the emergence of zones of privatised territory based on self-enrichment, this book challenges the conception of refugees in camps as helpless, vulnerable individuals.
Based on detailed and sustained research at the camp of Shatila in Beirut, Humanitarian Rackets and their Moral Hazards reveals that even the access of humanitarian agencies to the camp is determined by payment to certain refugee groups, whilst the degree of humanitarian interaction has created a sense of entitlement amongst some, based on a belief in their own exceptionalism as a displaced ethnic group.
Detailing the everyday economic transactions that transpire in refugee camps, this book shows that, far from being helpless victims with no power over their circumstances, many Palestinian refugees have created lucrative ventures from humanitarian assistance. A rich, yet troubling study of refugee life and the 'cartelisation' of camp space, this book will be of interest to sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists working in the fields of humanitarian intervention, development, criminology and informal economies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: On the Humanitarian Cause
1. Palestinians in Lebanon
2. Foreign State Patronage and Palestinian Proxy Mobilisation
3. Patronage and the Dynamic of PLO Entrenchment in Lebanon
4. The Parameters of Factional Power: Patronage and Competing Clienteles in the Camp
5. Camp as Economic Resource: Rent-seeking and Territoriality
6. The Racket Society
7. UNRWA and the Moral Hazard of Palestinian Exceptionalism
Conclusion: On the Humanitarian Enterprise
Rayyar Marron is School Visitor to the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University.