منتدى عبد خطار
منتدى عبد خطار

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Down and out in Nahr al-Bared: Displaced are losing patience

Down and out in Nahr al-Bared: Displaced are losing patience Inside each airless 18-square-meter unit there is a toilet, a gas burner and tatty mattresses on the

 
  12-06-2008 04:43   رقم المشاركة : 1
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وسيم
الصورة الرمزية وسيم

تاريخ التسجيل : 19-07-2007
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افتراضي Down and out in Nahr al-Bared: Displaced are losing patience

Down and out in Nahr al-Bared: Displaced are losing patience

Down and out in Nahr al-Bared: Displaced are losing patience

Inside each airless 18-square-meter unit there is a toilet, a gas burner and tatty mattresses on the bare wooden floor. This is the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen for Palestinian families like Hyat Jundi's, whose home in Nahr al-Bared was destroyed in last summer's battle between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants

"All I do all day is fight with the neighbors above about the water that spills down into our room," said Jundi, 55, as some of her four young children bustle around

"I'm irritable because I have backache from sleeping on the floor," she added

Jundi's husband, a garbage collector for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), also has two other wives with children, so he is only able to give her around $150 a month, she said

Food comes from UNRWA handouts, as well as donations from various non-governmental organizations and even some political parties

Along the dark, dank corridor and up some steps, 19-year-old Marzouka Mohammad Khadr, a young Lebanese who married a Palestinian from Nahr al-Bared, shows visitors the room where she is raising her young family

"We used to have a private kitchen and bathroom; now it's all in the same room," she said, pointing out cockroaches scuttling into cracks in the wooden floor beneath her makeshift sink. Flies buzz around as the breeze catches the smell of sewage seeping from the floor

Yet life for thousands of Palestinians displaced from Nahr al-Bared - some forced to flee their homes for the third time in their lives - might very soon be getting a lot worse, in large part due to the neglect of the region's Arab states. UNRWA is warning that unless its flash appeal for $43 million for emergency humanitarian assistance is met soon the agency will be forced by the end of October to stop distributing food aid to 3,100 families and halt rental subsidies supporting 27,000 Palestinians displaced from Nahr al-Bared

So far only the United States has come forward with emergency funds, donating $4.3 million for shelter, health and education, part of a total commitment this year of $23.5 million to UNRWA's reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared. In June, UNRWA said it needed about $445 million to rebuild the camp - both the so-called New Camp, which was badly damaged, and the original Old Camp which was completely destroyed

So far UNRWA says it has received just $70 million, 88 percent from Western donations, which also make up 90 percent of funds pledged for short-term relief. To date, no Arab governments have pledged to the long-term reconstruction of the camp, the largest single project in UNRWA's history

"Sadly this is part of a pattern," said Leila Shahid, a Palestinian representative at the European Union, in a recent editorial. "Luxembourg donates more than any Arab government to UNRWA's regular budget, while Norway gives more to the same budget annually than all Arab governments combined"

In a bid to highlight the plight of the Palestinians displaced from Nahr al-Bared, UNRWA last week organized a rare tour to areas of the new camp. IRIN's previous visit to the camp was in December

Though many aspects of normal life, such as vegetable shops, Internet cafes and functioning electricity cables, had returned to some areas of the New Camp (the Old Camp remains off limits), the emotional scars among the population appear to run as deep as the physical scars on the camp

"Depression is increasing among patients," said Mahmoud Nasser, chief medical officer for the camp, and head of one of two new health clinics opened by UNRWA since November. "They are more aggressive and some are sinking into despair. We've had diabetes patients who stop taking their medicine because they don't see any point in staying healthy"

Nasser said his clinic was treating some 180 patients a day, many with skin diseases from the huge dust clouds that blow from the rubble of the camp. UNRWA is now providing 100 percent of medication for chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, rather than its usual commitment of 50 percent

Salina al-Aynen, coordinator for the Children and Youth Center (CYC), a kindergarten funded by Western non-governmental organizations, said many of the young children aged 5-8 they host had displayed signs of trauma

"After the nightmare of Nahr al-Bared we saw kids just walking barefoot through the streets," she said. "When they came here all were scared and some would prefer to be alone. But we help them overcome their fear through communal games and celebrating the good things in life"

Abed Najjar of the camp's Popular Committee said discontent was growing: "Reconstruction is very slow," he said. "They've promised to remove the rubble in the Old Camp five times now"

UNRWA says rubble removal in the Old Camp is due to begin at the end of the first week of October


By IRIN News
 

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