Coordinating Care and Coercion: Styles of Sovereignty and the Politics of Humanitarian Aid in Lebanon

Abstract: This article explores how participatory planning on the Syrian refugee response in Lebanon has transformed the localized relationship between humanitarian care and state coercion. I argue that the Lebanese Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) has yielded a form of practical coordination between state and humanitarian actors that unintentionally increases the vulnerability of the country’s Syrian population. As the Lebanese government uses legal means to crack down on and re-displace impoverished refugees––most notably through mass evictions and business closures that began in 2017––they generate repeated small emergencies that engage the core competencies of their UNHCR and NGO partners. The LCRP enables this coordinated exercise of divergent rationalities of governance by establishing formal avenues for state-humanitarian coordination while holding the question of refugee rights in abeyance through the simultaneous use of multiple classificatory registers for Syrians.

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