Backups of Lebanon civil war material stored in Finland

The National Archives has received digital copies of significant original material concerning the civil war in Lebanon. The originals of the documents are stored at the UMAM Documentation & Research Centre in Beirut. The National Archives accepted the material upon a request by the International Council on Archives (ICA).

The UMAM, in operation since 2004, has collected material related to the civil war in Lebanon (1975–1990) and made it publicly available for research purposes and citizens. The UMAM was founded by Monika Borgmann, a well-known German war journalist and documentarian, and her Lebanese spouse Lokman Slim.

The consequences of the civil war are still apparent in Lebanon, and there is no specific information about the number of casualties or the course of individual events. Collecting information and making the source material publicly available is very important for addressing the trauma related to the civil war and for mental recovery.

Key documents of the UMAM have been digitised. They include personal documents related to those killed or gone missing in the civil war in Lebanon, as well as material concerning the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres in 1982. The material contains a large number of unique photographs.

While visiting the UMAM, the American Trudy Huskamp-Peterson, Chair of the Human Rights Working Group of the ICA, deemed it absolutely necessary that digital copies of the internationally unique documents also be stored safely abroad in addition to in Lebanon. In late spring 2011, the Working Group requested the National Archives of Finland to create backups of the material and to store it. 

The ICA's request was accepted by the National Archives. In April 2011, the material was copied to hard drives by the National Archives and transferred to Finland for safe storage. Due to reasons of security, the material will not be included in data systems. Also, the material is not available for research purposes in Finland but is only made available in exceptional cases by the written permission of UMAM.

For further information, please contact:
Jussi Nuorteva, Director General, National Archives, tel. +358 40 592 131
E-mail format: firstname.lastname@narc.fi