Samidoun: grassroots welfare and popular resistance in Beirut during the 33-Day War of 2006

Michael Lavalette and Barrie Levine

in Social work in extremis

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427182
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303558 | DOI:
Samidoun: grassroots welfare and popular resistance in Beirut during the 33-Day War of 2006

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From July 12 to August 14, 2006, Israel waged a 33-day war against Lebanon. As aircraft bombarded towns and cities and ground troops thrust into Southern Lebanon, refugees from across Lebanon, and particularly Southern Lebanon, abandoned their homes and villages and flooded into central Beirut. The refugees' requirements were immediate and substantial — food, accommodation and medical support had to be provided and a range of social, welfare and psychological needs had to be met. However, the traditional suppliers of welfare in Beirut, the vast number of civil society organisations in the voluntary sector and the more limited state sector both removed their staff and closed down under the air assault. Into this gap stepped a new, vibrant and remarkable social welfare movement called Samidoun, which became the main provider of basic needs for a large section of the refugee population in the city during the crisis. Forged in the midst of war, Samidoun was a consciously political intervention — part of the popular resistance to Israeli aggression — that linked resistance, political struggle and social work.

Keywords: Israel; Lebanon; war; refugees; social welfare; Beirut; Samidoun; popular resistance; social work

Chapter.  8571 words.  Illustrated.

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