During a photographic assignment in Lebanon for the United Nations Development Program, I decided to explore Tripoli, and especially the areas of Jabal Mohsen, and Bab al-Tabbaneh, where been fightings between militias and armed residents for years. These areas and the Lebanese inhabitants have been largely undocumented by media as the Syrian crisis is taking a very large part of the media coverage in the region.
In the second largest city of Lebanon, Tripoli, two suburbs have been fighting and killing each other for more than 40 years. The reasons of this conflict go beyond religion, the Syrian conflict and the entry of ISIS in the city. Politicians of the region use militias to show their prestige, militias they hire amongst the youngsters of these two areas known for their extreme poverty. These two neighbourhoods are Jabal Mohsen, a Allaouit majority area and Bab al-Tabbaneh, with a majority of Sunnis.
An abandoned school sits desolate on the border of Bab al-Tabbaneh, partially destructed by the Israeli airstrikes in 2006. The Lebanese youth have adopted the ruins as their own, reviving the divergent grounds. This group of about 10 boys aged between 10 and 15 have developed an entire hidden world, on the site they enjoy shaping every day, while molding an individual and off-beat culture. They found a way to complete the time they have while not going to school by playing and developing a world of their own. They are an easy target for the militias that look for boys that are trying hard to do something with their lives, but do not have to means to get there.
I left the place with intense memories of the experience of encountering one of the toughest group of boys I had ever met.
Tripoli, Lebanon, December 2015