27 December at Aida refugee camp

by ray goodlass

27 December

Today on a group excursio to the Aida Refugee Camp, the largest in the
Betlehem area, sanwiched between the Separation Wall and the city, and
housing 5,000 refugees, but originally set upfor 1,000.

Another heartbreaking experience, given the crowded condions, scarcity
of facilities and resources, and most importantly the fact that there
is no hope of chang. The fact that concrete buildings (a very few
faced with Jerusalem stone ’tiles’) have replaced the original tents
creates a depressing sense of permanence.

We visited some of the perimeter,saw a DVD titled Aida, had a lecture
from Kahled, a resident refugee, then a tour of the camp, and a final
discussion.

There are several UN agencies, such as UNRWA and UNESCO, providing
basic services, including education. It is possible too to go on to
University through the one Palestinion public (open, incldig online
and DE) university, or one of the 8 private ones.

Apart from the appalling living condiitons, depressing sense of
permanence and general hoplessness, there is a strong sense of
defiance, which is shown by way of a lot of really powerful political
street art – political cartoons, slogans and so. I took lots of
photos.

I noticed also a fairly strong Israeli military presence, again on
Palestinian land! Apparently on this occasion it was because children
had been observed, from the Israeli watch towers that overlook,
throwing stones, presumaby at the ‘Separation Wall’. Overkill, surely,
as a few stone throwing kids in a camp is hardly the start of the
third Intifada!

In conclusion for today, the heartbreaking permanence of the all too
solid buildings brings very strongly to mind the issue of the ‘Right
of Return’ for all the refugees, not just in this one and other camps
in Palestine, but also those in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. This issue
must be satisfactorilly addressed and solved as part of a just peace
settlement.

Oh our day concluded with another good lecture, this time on refugees.

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