04.09 Refugee


Event Details:

“Hope for a Desperate Palestinian Refugee Population in Lebanon”
Friday, April 9, 2010
11:45 - 1:15 pm
Perkins Room (Rubenstein Building, Floor 4) Harvard Kennedy School of Government

“Hope for a Desperate Palestinian
refugee population in Lebanon”


Rima Merhi
Carr Center Gebran G. Tueni Fellow


Professor Elaine Hagopian

After sixty-two years, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continue to live in slums that rarely see the daylight. Lebanon’s twelve Palestinian refugee camps are amongst the worst of fifty eight camps in the region. Palestinians in Lebanon do not possess the most basic civil rights, including the right to work, own property and have proper access to education and health care.

At the crux of the matter lie historic, political, demographic, legal, and security considerations that are further complicated by regional and international players.

How can Lebanese government backed by the international community move beyond security concerns to address the rights of Palestinian refugees?

Speaker Bio:

Rima Merhi: Following the battle at Nahr el Bared Palestinian camp in May 2007, Rima resigned from the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Commmitee - a UNDP capacity building team positioned in the Prime Minister’s office to improve the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. She participated in the relief and media committees presided by the Lebanese Prime Minister during the crisis at Nahr el Bared Palestinian camp in 2007. Rima has published several articles on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and recently presented a policy paper on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon at a conference in Istanbul organized by the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin. Rima is a researcher, human rights activist, and freelance journalist with publications in leading newspapers and other media outlets. She recently conducted research at the Middle East Institute and the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Rima has a BA in public administration and MA in political science (emphasis international affairs) from the American University of Beirut (AUB), and an MBA from the Lebanese American University. In July 2005 she testified before the U.S. Congress on youth aspirations for political, economic, and social reform in Lebanon. Rima acquired human rights education and training at Oxford and holds numerous certificates related to the field of human rights.

Moderator Bio

Elaine Hagopian is Professor Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College. She held faculty appointments in Sociology at Smith College and Simmons College. She was also a visiting professor at the American University of Beirut and a Distinguished Lectureship at the American University in Cairo. She served as a special consultant to UNICEF in the United Arab Emirates and as a UNESCO Expert on a team to conduct a feasibility study throughout the M.E. for a Palestine Open University to serve Palestinian refugees. She also received two Fulbright Hayes Faculty Research Grants to conduct research on Palestine and Arab Nationalism and to research the French period in Lebanon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris. She is the Editor or Co-Editor/Author of Arab Americans: Studies in Assimilation; the award winning Civil Rights in Peril: the Targeting of Arabs and Muslims; South Lebanon; The Realignment of Power in Lebanon: External and Internal Dimensions (special issue of the Arab Studies Quarterly). She has also authored some 100 articles and book reviews.