Friday, June 19, 2015

International Refugee Day - June 20, 2015

Palestinians are the largest and longest suffering group of refugees in the world. One in three refugees world wide is Palestinian. There are about 6.5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. More than 3.8 million Palestinian refugees and their descendents displaced in 1948 are registered for humanitarian assistance with the United Nations. Another 1.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendents, also displaced in 1948, are not registered with the UN. About 263,000 Palestinians and their descendents are internally displaced i.e. inside present-day "Israel".

     Descendents of refugees are included in the total population because they are still unable to realize their basic rights. About 20,000 Palestinians were internally displaced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2001, some 3,000 of whom were newly displaced during that year. At least 26,000 Palestinians left the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Jordan and did not return between June 2000 and July 2001. Such transfer of the Palestinian population driven by hard econmic and discriminatory conditions continues today. 
The refugee camps began as tent cities in 1948. The inhabitants expected to be returning home in a matter of days or weeks.
It has now been a matter of generations. In many places they are refused permission to work. In others, access to available work is restricted by checkpoints. 
Political conditions and restrictions as well as  frequent outbreaks of violence conspire to keep the inhabitants from gathering the resources needed to move out of the camps.

(See for this and other photos of refugee camps and refugee life.)

One such checkpoint is Kalandia (often spelled Qalandia). Checkpoints Project on Youtube has a series of 6 videos focusing on the checkpoints. The first is Kalandia: A Checkpoint Story that shows the evolution of the checkpoint.

My novel, Checkpoint Kalandia, shows the impact such a checkpoint can have on the everyday life of a refugee family.

Many of these families still rely on the generosity of others
to survive. In honor of World Refugee Day, please consider making a donation to help them. 

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