Sunday, 29th November marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the UN resolution for the partition of Palestine.
By Lydia Khoury
Aida camp is home to nearly 5,000 refugees. It is located in the West Bank village of Bethlehem. Once you reach the camp you cannot miss it because there is a large key over the entrance which symbolises the homes lost by Palestinian refugees.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke at the camp while standing in front of Israel’s Separation Barrier (a series of concrete walls that cuts through the West Bank in places) during his visit to Bethlehem in May this year. There he visited the camp and expressed his solidarity with all the homeless Palestinians who long to be able to return to their birthplace, or to live permanently in a homeland of their own.
“In these days, that longing takes on a particular poignancy as you recall the events of May 1948 and the years of conflict, as yet unresolved, that followed from those events. You are now living in precarious and difficult conditions, with limited opportunities for employment. It is understandable that you often feel frustrated,” said Pope Benedict.
Some people who live in the Aida refugee camp reflect upon the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:
I have not seen Jerusalem in 10 years. I have family there but I do not see them. Jerusalem for me is our capital but I cannot visit it. It’s like another world for me. I have been imprisoned behind these large walls and checkpoints. I cannot go anywhere. I have heard of the beach but have never seen it.
It is great that at the UN they have this special day for us but it’s not enough. We hear of change but we do not see it on the ground. On the contrary, for me the UN has diminished much of its aid to the refugees. Every year it gets worse. The refugees here are getting poorer and poverty creates many problems.
Many people are living under the poverty line. Unemployment is high and much is missing in these camps. I am not only talking about financial aid but I am talking about a change that is more real and evident. We were forced to become refugees and now we are paying the price.
I hope that our people will be united and free to live like other people around the world.
A mother of seven originally came from the village of Al- Malha which is now considered an Israeli village
The solidarity of people around the world with Palestinians has been clear from day one. This campaign especially is a response to their support and love for the Palestinian people and their support of justice and peace. I am glad to still hear that people have not stopped talking about the Palestinian issue but we as refugees want to see true change in our camps. This is what we ask from the UN.
Khaled Abu Hamad
Every day I wake up hoping that our situation in the camp will get better. Some of my family has already left to live in Jordan and I do not want to do the same. I am still living in the hope of a better future.
I am happy to see all these groups and organisations concerned about the Palestinian people but I want them to take an influential step to truly restore the rights of the Palestinians under international law as promised to us by the United Nations.
I am currently heading to the UN agency here to receive help for my children. I hate to be dependent on other people but the occupation and the wall has not helped in making things any easier on us. I used to work in Israel. I used to walk through this area were you see the wall and go to my work but now it’s not possible.