Lebanon: Shatila Refugee Camp

The Shatila refugee camp was built in 1949 to receive the refugee from northern Palestine. Palestinians were expelled by from their town by Israeli forces. They are until now living in Shatila for 2 generations and are still waiting for their right to return to Palestine. During the civil war the camp was the siege of massacre by the Christian milice ‘The Phalange’ where 3500 civilians were killed, mostly kids and women. Palestinians in Lebanon have no rights, they aren’t allowed to have a skilled job or buy a house.
The conditions of living inside the camp are constant hardship. Seawater running from the taps the electricity is cut every hour, gunfights and 90% of unemployment. With the Syrians crisis the population has doubled and the 1km square camp is now hosting 20 000 refugees. The UNRWA is operating health centers but has just shut down the school for lack of fundings. The everyday life is a surrounding of wreckage of the wars and hopelessness.
The Palestinians are still waiting for their right to return home. They aren’t allowed to settle permanently in Lebanon, they are considered as second-class citizen. In the camp 20 families have their grandparents alive who can describe how was their homeland before the invasion. All have in their home pictures, maps, crafts with Palestine colors, image of Yasser Arafat, and the key the symbol of their return to Palestine.
As the memories fade aw with time so the hope. From generation to generation Palestinians loose their sense of Palestine. The kids today are told from their parents who have been told by their parents who remembered how their land was.
Their houses and the olive trees they used rest under its shade. Unfortunately the youngest only have the camp they can call home. They drew for me how they imagine the land of their fathers. When they knew something about it.

Photos and Text: Francois Razon / UnFrame

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