Safia lives in the Palestinian gathering, or informal settlement, of Al Qasmieh in southern Lebanon. Their house, along with 75 others in the gathering is subject to an, as yet unenforced, eviction order.
“We don’t own this land. The region was abandoned and the landowner brought people here. There was poverty in Palestine when our families came here and he told them to work and live here.”
In 1997, the heirs of the original landowner began legal proceedings to reclaim the land. Each Palestinian house owner was ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 Lebanese pounds for having built illegally, to abandon their property and to pay for the cost of its demolition. The ruling sparked protests and after interventions by prominent politicians the eviction order was not enforced.
Safia knows the political environment in Lebanon is volatile. She fears that:
“one day it will happen again. There is nothing we can do. There would be negative consequences if we took legal action because there is no agreement that proves that this house belongs to us. Eight people live in this house. As a mother, I am always afraid for my children’s future. Where will they go?”