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Refuge in Ruin: Returning to Nahr al-Bared

All year, a string of car bombs, assassinations and the encampment of anti-government protesters in downtown Beirut had elevated fears that Lebanon's deepening political crisis could ignite an all-out war. Then a fierce clash erupted May 20 that pitted the national army against a surprising foe: a little-known militant group comprising hundreds of fighters firmly entrenched in the Palestinian camp at Nahr al-Bared.

The battle raged for 15 weeks, scattering the camp's 31,000 residents and shocking a fearfully divided nation. When the fighting ended Sept. 2, it had claimed hundreds of lives, leveled most of the camp and stretched the army perilously thin. In a country where Palestinians are still blamed for triggering the last civil war, it had raised the grim possibility that violence could spread to 11 similar camps. 'Post-Annapolis' discussions on the prospects for Palestinian statehood largely ignore the fate of Lebanon's 400,000 Palestinians. But the untold stories behind the rise of Fatah al-Islam, the ongoing displacement of Nahr al-Bared's two-time refugees and what –– if anything –– the government will do about the dismal conditions and shifting alliances within the camps, will help determine the region's future.

Palestinian Militants' Advantage in Gaza?

The humanitarian focus in Gaza will soon begin to shift, thanks to the more than $4 billion in pledges that were made by international donors at the Sharm el-Sheik conference this month.

Among the emergency relief workers, the humanitarian workers, and medics flooding the strip, there will be some unexpected people trawling through the rubble before reconstruction starts.

Keep Your Head Down

One afternoon in May 2007, a few days after my graduation from journalism school, I was seated with some friends at a booth in Tom's Restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when my cell phone beeped. I had a text message from a classmate. It read, "Don't back out now."

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Round Two: Winning Essays

In May 2008, the Pulitzer Center partnered with Helium to continue its second round of the Global Issues/Citizen Voices Writing Contest. Find the winning essays here.