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Hosting Syrian Refugees in Saida (Lebanon) Under Protracted Displacement: Unfolding Spatial and Social Exclusion

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Lebanon has witnessed multiple waves of displaced peoples throughout its recent history, including the displacement of Palestinians to Lebanon after the occupation of Palestine in 1948, the internal displacement of families from occupied Southern Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of 1978, and the influx of Syrian refugees after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011. Many Syrian families had to reconstitute their lives in Lebanon because of the crisis in their country, often in tented and informal settlements or in overpopulated or even abandoned buildings. This article focuses on the process of hosting Syrian refugees in Saida in Southern Lebanon after 2011. It explores service provisions and the two dominant types of housing for Syrian refugees: collective shelters and single apartments within local neighbourhoods. The article argues that mechanisms of exclusion emerge with intensity in cities like Saida that have received and accommodated multiple waves of displacement. Such mechanisms of exclusion in Saida are politically attuned to the historical depth of the hosting experience and emerge at multiple levels, both social and spatial. This is despite Saida’s mobilization to provide aid, and its departure from housing refugees in camps, which is based on a model of containment, and its move toward housing refugees across the urban landscape, which is based on a model of disbursement.

Keywords: Lebanon; Syrian refugees; displacement; housing; social exclusion; urban services

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419369801American University of Beirut

Publication date: July 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA) is intended for those interested in urban design and planning, architecture, and landscape design in the historic Islamic world, encompassing the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, but also the more recent geographies of Islam in its global dimensions. The main emphasis is on detailed analysis of the practical, historical and theoretical aspects of architecture, with a focus on both design and its reception. The journal is also specifically interested in contemporary architecture and urban design in relation to social and cultural history, geography, politics, aesthetics, technology, and conservation. Spanning across cultures and disciplines, IJIA seeks to analyze and explain issues related to the built environment throughout the regions covered. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary nature of this journal will significantly contribute to the knowledge in this field.

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