This paper primarily aims at enlarging qualitative knowledge on how social settings and personal relations change while turning into spaces of humanitarian aid provision. The two major emergencies that Lebanon has faced so far will be taken into analysis: the Israel-Lebanon July War in 2006 and today’s unprecedented influx of Syrian refugees. In this framework, while dealing with the sudden presence of non-state actors replacing the void historically left by the central state, this paper will illustrate how the 2006 displaced and now the Syrian refugees have locally developed moral resilience, gratitude or mistrust towards the humanitarian programmes, and cultivated expectations of mutual assistance. In the wake of what has been first applauded—and then discarded—as the “Arab Spring”, a phenomenological analysis of the social changes, engendered by the temporary presence of humanitarian actors in chronically neglected settings, can offer an inner perspective of how people socially respond to emergency crises.
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