TRIPOLI, Lebanon: As the latest round of clashes in Tripoli enters its fifth day, the beleaguered residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh say they’ve had the most to lose from the periodic violence in their neighborhood.
Hayat al-Ali, a 55-year-old diabetic, sat on a couch in her neighbor’s house in the dark, as the clashes persisted outside. Power cuts have become indicative of clashes as power lines are usually interrupted in the first few hours of every round that rivals in the mostly-Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh engage in altercations with the Alawite Jabal Mohsen.
“We are living a catastrophic crisis, physically and financially,” said the elderly woman who is slowly becoming blind due to the lack of treatment. “Civilians pay the price for politics every time,” she said.
On the couch facing Ali sat her 70-year-old neighbor Umm Ahmad, the owner of the house where Ali was taking refuge. “We sit and chat with our neighbors to pass the time, there is no water or food,” she said of how she typically waits out the clashes. She described venturing outdoors to get food supplies as a “suicide mission.”
Her anger is directed to the neighborhood’s field commanders, whom she says “are stacking dollars in their bank accounts while we starve here under fire.”
Residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh have received compensation money from the government for properties damaged during the clashes, but they argue the amount was not sufficient.
Abu Mahmoud, another resident in the neighborhood said his home was completely destroyed in a fire caused by incendiary bullets.
“They [the High Relief Council] paid me LL300,000. But it will cost me more than a million to repair the glass alone.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 17, 2014, on page 3.