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Palestinians in Lebanese Camps: Nobody Will Compensate Us

Palestinians in Lebanese Camps: Nobody Will Compensate Us

Monday, 3 February, 2020 - 11:45
Outside the Sabra and Shatila camp in Beirut's southern suburbs; Asharq Al-Awsat.
Beirut - Sanaa al-Jaak

At first glance, the residents of the Sabra and Shatila camp in Beirut’s Southern Suburb seem indifferent to the Deal of the Century. That is understandable, for the Palestinians’ concerns in the camp go beyond international policies, and they are more concerned with their inability to secure their needs.

One resident, an orange cart vendor in the middle of the street, says, “You want to ask me about the Deal of the Century. It’s bigger than us. The situation has become intolerable. We’ve had enough lies. I wish they would just take us and throw us in Bangladesh. We would lead better lives there”.

Shadi, who studied accounting at the Beirut Arab University, sells oranges and never dreams of returning to Palestine. “It is impossible”, he says, “who would return those people like me? I am from Gaza, and I witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre in September 1982, where my brothers were killed. If I return, I would kill every Israeli I see. There are many others like me here, and so, there is no hope to return”.

What will happen to you?

He answers, “Naturalization, but according to a specific plan that does not include people like us. Nobody wants us, as if we are nobody. Even this camp is no longer ours; between every one hundred Syrians, you find one Palestinian”.

Indeed, there are different nationalities in the camp, and the majority is definitely no longer Palestinian. Syrian refugees have the largest share, whether of housing or of trade at the southern entrance of the camp that attracts customers, considering the relatively low prices.

Consequently, Palestinians in the camp are cautious, especially the elderly. Abou Yasser, a shoe shop owner, says: “We no longer know friends from foes. We are afraid of expressing our opinion as to not annoy any of the representatives of the matter-of-fact forces responsible for security in the camp”.

Indeed, quickly, a young man from these “forces” shows up. Ismail salutes him and commends the man's party which “makes things easier for us”, says Ismail. He then adds after the young man leaves. “They hold us down by our throats and force us to pay a fee for our safety from the mafias that surround us and from the violence of policemen”.

Mohammad, who is past 70 years of age, expresses his fear for his children and grandchildren from the consequences the deal of the century will have on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

In the Borj El Brajneh camp, things are not different in terms of the fate of Palestinians in the country. Ghina, a teacher in one of the UNRWA schools in the camp, tells Asharq Al-Awsat: “Those following up with the situation of the Palestinian diaspora in general, and in Lebanon particularly, would not be surprised by how this deal is being prepared for”.

Umm Amer, on the other hand, says that she carries the spirit of the revolution despite oppression.

“I am against the Deal of the Century. Palestinians should return to their country, stay in Lebanon will just harm them. They will not accept to be naturalized. Also, Lebanese authorities are divided over the issue. So we will return to our countries no matter what.”

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