I spent my summer in a refugee camp in Ramallah, Palestine, where I lived together with people who have been refugees in their own country since 1949. From June to August of 2016 I spent 3 months in Ramallah as part of my Master’s degree. There, in addition to improving my Arabic at Bir Zeit University, I lived and worked at the Al-Amari refugee camp.
70 years as refugees
In the refugee camp near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank live more than 10’000 people who were displaced in the aftermath of the 1948 war and since then have not been able to return to their homes. Among the displaced there are many families who have less than nothing and barely get by. That’s why every year during the holy month of Ramadan, the women at the Palestinian Society for Care and Development at the camp cook around 350 meals every day, which then are distributed among those most in need in the camp. Through the distribution process I got to know all the alley ways at the camp and met many interesting people. On several occasions I was invited for supper at people’s houses and this way I got a glimpse at what live in the camp was like. It’s safe to say that it is a life of hardship and plight.
During the three months I spent in Palestine I travelled around the whole of the West Bank and got to see historical cities like Nablus and Bethlehem.
Hebron - the divided city
The visit that stayed with me the most was when we went to the city of Hebron, or Al-Khalil in Arabic, where the situation of the Palestinians is especially dire. Israeli settlers and the military systematically oppress the population and a politics of displacement has been carried out for decades. Around the city villages are being demolished by the military, fertile soil is being confiscated and crops are being destroyed, which leaves the Palestinian farmers with nothing. In addition to all of this, a ban on construction makes it impossible for Palestinians to rebuild their houses after they have been demolished. This also prevents them from carrying out much needed infrastructural improvement within the city.
The city is dominated by a climate of Apartheid since some of the main streets are only accessible for settlers and tourists. Hundreds of school children can’t go to school without the protection of international helpers, for they are being constantly harassed by settlers on their way there. Violence, on both sides of the spectrum, is part and parcel of the daily life and many houses need to be equipped with gas masques, fire extinguishers and further necessities. Many flee the climate of fear and violence and leave Hebron. During my visit I met an organisation through friends called HIRN – Hebron International Resource Network, which incessantly fights the Israeli occupation and battles the daily injustices happening to Palestinians on a local level.
HIRN – Hebron International Resources Network
The organisation’s professed aim is it to oppose the politics of displacement and to improve the daily life of Palestinians. They do this through the building of schools and community centres, in order to provide the Palestinian children with an education and thus preserving the base of the Palestinian society. They furthermore provide people in danger of displacement with financial and material support and supply them with moral support by marking their presence. The organisation is headed by a man who fights day and night for the rights of the most vulnerable. His work deeply impressed me which is why I deem it immensely important to support his project. There’s nothing more important than supporting grass root organisations for the people on the ground know best what’s needed and how to get it.
Ausbau einer Mädchenschule in Hebron
Anbei kurz und bündig ein paar Informationen zu einem aktuellen Projekt von HIRN in Palästina, bei dem eine Mädchenschule in Süd-Hebron ausgebaut werden soll.
Das Crowdfunding läuft noch sechs Tage und jede Unterstützung is willkommen!
Bei HIRN handelt es sich um eine Organisation die ich Palästina kennen und sehr schätzen gelernt habe. Sie möchte mittels Crowdfunding eine bestehende Schule in einem Dorf in den South Hebron Hills ausbauen, um das frühzeitige Ausscheiden von Mädchen zu verhindern. Da die nächstgelegene Schule für Mädchen zehn Kilometer entfernt liegt und der Weg dorthin beschwerlich ist, verlassen viele Mädchen die Schule bereits nach der 8. Klasse. Das soll mit dem Ausbau einer näher gelegenen Schule verhindert werden.
Für weitere Auskünfte zu HIRN oder diesem Projekt dürft Ihr euch jederzeit ungeniert bei mir melden. Bei Interesse hätte ich auch noch weiterführende Berichte über den Einfluss der Besatzungspolitik auf das Recht auf und den Zugang zu Bildung im Westjordanland.
Die wichtigsten Infos findet ihr direkt unter folgenden Links:
Crowdfunding für das aktuelle Projekt: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HIRNBethlehemMarathon2017
Aktualisierte Homepage mit allen Infos zu HIRN: https://hirn.wordpress.com/projects/
Aktivist aus Hebron wird mit dem Tod bedroht.
Those interested in the situation in Palestine, and especially Hebron, can get more information on the HIRN website: hirn.wordpress.com
And those who would like to donate money to the cause can do this through the British Shalom Salaam Trust (BSST): (please state that you’re donating to HIRN) bsst.org.uk/donate (Bitte auf dem Spendenzettel "HIRN" angeben.)
Get in touch
My name is Julia Wartmann, I’m 26 years old, and a student of International Relations of the Middle East and Arabic at the University of Edinburgh. Throughout my life I’ve lived in Argentina, Palestine and Scotland. I aspire to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the future.
If you're planning a trip to palestine, you can contact me anytime for infos and advice. Send me a mail to email@example.com