Washington, D.C. — As a group of US-based humanitarian and development NGOs, we are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s decision to stop funding programs that meet the basic needs of Palestinians at a time of acute suffering brought on by years of conflict and isolation.
Once again, the crisis in the Gaza Strip is generating headlines around the world. Recent protests at the Gaza-Israeli border left thousands of Palestinians in need of medical aid. These Gaza protests, called ‘The Great March of Return,’ were focused on the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to family lands or homes lost during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
by Liz Demarest
Since December 2007 I have visited Gaza nine times. It is April 2018 and I just got back from a trip there. Over the course of 11 years, I have seen this beautiful strip of land deteriorate to the point where it it is hard to imagine how much worse it can be.
by Akram Jawabreh
My childhood was the most beautiful time of my entire life. I used to spend my time playing in the alleys of Arroub refugee camp, my home in the West Bank. Despite the camp’s uncovered sewage canals, poor lighting and dusty, unpaved streets, life was not complicated. My neighbors and I made a playground of the narrow streets and the surrounding vineyards and fields. Back then, we had no worries of what tomorrow would bring. How beautiful and simple was that time, in comparison to what today’s children are forced to endure.
Gaza has long suffered from a severe electricity shortage, but this summer it has reached a breaking point. Now the residents of Gaza get only two to three hours of power per day, if they get any at all.
What does that mean?
** “When a door slams, the kids get scared,” said Qarrah. “They think it’s the sound of the airstrikes they used to hear back in Aleppo.”**
Only four months ago, 75-year-old Qarrah fled to Lebanon with her two daughters, Aziza and Fadilah, and 15 grandchildren. “My two daughters are widowed and we have no one to provide for us.”
Now Qarrah and her family live in two tents in Tal Abbas village. Theirs is among the 839 informal tented settlements housing Syrian refugees in Akkar, Lebanon.
In Nahr El Bared camp, a community-based recycling project is better for the environment and for scavengers like Ayman.
Ayman’s typical day starts at 6 A.M. With his wagon in hand, he heads to the waste dumping sites of Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp to search for recyclables. He can count on filling his wagon with recyclables by early afternoon. He’ll stop for a quick lunch with his wife and children, and then head out for a second round. By sunset, his day is done, and he’ll have found a treasure trove of recyclable trash.
Burj El Barajneh is a Palestinian refugee camp located in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The camp was established in 1948 after the “Nakba,” when Palestinians were forced to flee their homes and villages. The camp was built on one square kilometer (0.38 square miles) of land to accommodate 10,000 refugees. Today, Bur El Burajneh is home to some 31,000 refugees, including thousands who have recently fled fighting in Syria.
February 29, 2016
Hanine Chakawi lives in Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, with her parents, three sisters and two brothers. The 14-year-old and her family fled their home in Homs, Syria three years ago and sought refuge in Lebanon, where they are trying to regain some sense of normalcy.
At the Lebanese International University campus in northern Lebanon, a group of 400 teenage boys and girls – Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese – are gathered on a field, smiling and joking with one another. In the middle of Lebanon’s refugee crisis, this is a rare sight.
Nestled within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Spafford Children’s Center has served Palestinians in East Jerusalem for over 100 years. The center has experienced many changes throughout the years and managed to withstand political challenges and ongoing turbulence.
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STATEMENT BY THE INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN COMMUNITY
How much longer must children suffer from hunger? How much longer must women die in childbirth for lack of medical care? How much longer must we be barred from the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus and the many thousands of desperate and vulnerable civilians caught up in Syria’s conflict? How much longer will we allow such unimaginable civilian suffering?
The UN estimates that three out of four refugees of the 80,000 now in Lebanon are women and children. They have sought refuge in the Palestinian camps, among the most impoverished communities. Many of the women have lost or left behind loved ones, belongings and dreams of a peaceful life. Now, they find themselves without a source of income or proper housing, no privacy or social support.
The forgotten people
The list of challenges Palestinian refugee families living in Lebanon face is long and overwhelming.
They live in overcrowded camps and have to deal with discrimination, isolation and social exclusion.
On the Lebanese leg of the trip, I joined up with ANERA Board Member and Vice Chair, Fawzi Kawash. In Jordan, ANERA Middle East Representative, Tom Neu, joined us with Hanan Shasha, head of ANERA's Amman office. In Palestine and Israel, ANERA Board Member, Philip Wilcox, joined us for about half of the trip. Dr. Eid Mustafa, member of the ANERA Medical Committee, joined Fawzi Kawash, Philip Wilcox, and me for a couple of meetings.