Responding to Precarity: Beddawi Camp in the Era of Covid-19
Special Feature: 
Beddawi camp
mutual aid
Palestinian refugee
Syrian refugee

How are refugees responding to protect themselves and others in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic? How do these responses relate to diverse local, national, and international structures of inequality and marginalization? Drawing on the case of Beddawi camp in North Lebanon, I argue that local responses—such as sharing information via print and social media, raising funds for and preparing iftar baskets during Ramadan, and distributing food and sanitation products to help people practice social distancing—demonstrate how camp residents have worked individually and collectively to find ways to care for Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Lebanese residents alike, thereby transcending a focus on nationality-based identity markers. However, state, municipal, international, and media reports pointing to Syrian refugees as having imported the virus into Beddawi camp place such local modes of solidarity and mutuality at risk. This article thus highlights the importance of considering how refugee-refugee assistance initiatives relate simultaneously to: the politics of the self and the other, politically produced precarity, and multi-scalar systems that undermine the potential for solidarity in times of overlapping precarities.

Author biography: 

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is professor of migration and refugee studies and codirector of the Migration Research Unit at University College London (UCL), where she is also the director of the Refuge in a Moving World research network at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. Her current interdisciplinary research examines local- and Southern-led responses to displacement in the Middle East. She is the editor of several books, including Refuge in a Moving World: Tracing Refugee and Migrant Journeys Across Disciplines (London: UCL Press, 2020) and Routledge Handbook of South-South Relations (London: Routledge, 2018, coedited with Patricia Daley), and the author of South-South Educational Migration, Humanitarianism and Development: Views from the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East (London: Routledge, 2015) and The Ideal Refugees: Gender, Islam, and the Saharawi Politics of Survival (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014).

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