Sunday, 21 June 2009



Ayman Quader
21 June 2009

Since the establishment of the Palestinian refugee camps in 1949 as part of the aftermath of the Palestine-Israel conflict, the Palestinian refugees have been gravely suffering and are considered the longest suffering from this injustice. They are denied the basic access to life itself. It is worth mentioning that the refugee camps were established as a temporary-living solution for the refugees after they fled or were expelled from their original homes. The living condition of the Palestinian refugee is seriously miserable and lacks the basic daily necessities of life which are needed for a healthy development. The Palestinian refugee problem is totally complex regarding the living conditions as the people live under the line of poverty and are struggling

The family of Al Aqra’a is a fatherless family living in Dair Al Balah Refugee camp in the centre of the GazaStrip. The long suffering of this particular family is representative of all living in these wretched camps. The situation of this family worsened a few years ago during a siege of Gaza as they lost their sole breadwinner and have been without any means of support since.

Ali Aqran, aged 9 , describes his living conditions as a living burial for him and his family. “We have been living under very harsh living conditions. As for me a 9 year old child what did I do wrong to be treated so cruelly”? The family of Ali consists of 5 people including the mother who struggling to get her siblings a decent life. They live in a structure that is not meant to be a home. The ‘house’ was built of different materials but does not include cement. The only concrete-roofed room was totally destroyed in the recent war on Gaza as this room was hit by a missile during one of the attacks. This room has become a room for the children’s pet cats, not suitable for humans. The rest of the ‘house’ is made of wood that is reinforced with broken asbestos sheets. It is unbearably hot during the summer months. The visitor’s room is sparely furnished with makeshift furniture of very poor quality.

Most families that lost the main breadwinner of the family lost the emotional support as well. The responsibility of sustaining the family and the increasing demands, in these cases, falls on the shoulders of the mother. They mainly depend of on the charities and the assistance from others.

Ali and his other two brothers usually sleep out of the room, under the sky as the only available hut is only for the mother and the sister. They do not have enough space to sleep inside so the available the space is reserved for the mother and the sister.

I asked Ali about his own personal childhood experiences during the recent war on Gaza. “we were passing through very critical condition during the time of war as we did not have any safe place any more.” He continued, “look! Look! Look! there is not strong roof that could protect us from the nearby Israeli fire and we were randomly targeted by the Israeli warships as we live near the sea”. Ali added that “we did not evacuate our house during the time day of the war as the UNRWA school shelters were faraway from our house so we kept close to each other. One day in the morning, dozens of shrapnel directly hit our house as well our neighbors and critically injured my friend Mohammed.”

When I asked Ali how he usually spends his spare time, he took a deep breath and replied “I do have spare time to play, but I do not have a space to play. As we are fatherless children, I always try hard to help my mother in taking care of my young siblings and our house”. I regularly go to the nearby sea and spend time their with my friends playing on the beach and walking. Sometimes, when we hear a voice of the Israeli warship firing its leads toward the fishermen, we run back to our homes” added Ali.

“I hope we could have spare time like any other young children in the world. I aspire as a Palestinian child to get my rights to play and to have fun like the rest of the world’s children. I hope that conflict, war, violence comes to an end and people live in a peaceful society. The nature of people should be the nature of freedom and security not the nature of killing, hatred, attack and destruction"

More photos from this narrative can be seen HERE

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