Wednesday 11 July 2007

Aida (Adyah) Camp a small history

Adyah Camp small history and story

Since the problem of these refugees was not resolved, United Nations began, in 1951, the construction of small houses made of one or two rooms, and a small kitchen (rooms of 9-12 m2, and ~2 to 2,5 meters high). However after years and years of waiting, the refugees could not live in these temporary shelters created by the UN. Most of the shelters started to fall down. People, mostly poor and not able to buy a piece of land outside the camp, started reconstruction inside the camp of new houses. They became refugees on their own land, in their own country. Since the space is very limited in the camp, and no possibilities of horizontal expansion, the construction expanded vertically. That’s why the camp lacks children corners and playgrounds where children could eventually play. After 53 years of living in this refugee camp, as well as for other refugees in other camps, people know that this is a station in their life; they are still dreaming and asking for the application of the UN resolutions concerning the right of return to their own lands occupied and taken by Israeli state in 1948 and 1967. Till now, the community international plays the blind role concerning the Palestinian refugees.

Around 40% of its population is children under the age of 18, with equal distribution between males and females. The camp has two schools run by UNRWA, one for boys and another for girls (till the end of preparatory classes- age 15). There is also a youth center and a kindergarten run by the local community. The camp is located at the northern border of Bethlehem. Its main entrance is closed by cubes of cement, placed by the Israeli Army at RachelÕs Tomb (originally a mosque Ð Mosque of Bilal Ibn Rabah- and converted into a synagogue in 1967), which composes a military observation point next to the camp. The Gilo settlement, built mostly on the lands of the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, which is bordering the camp from the north and north west as well as the RachelÕs tomb observation point at the eastern side, both constitute a serious threat to the people of the camp through frequent harassments, shooting and shelling.

During these hard times, and in all cases, children were the most to suffer. Many children got traumatized, several of them were reported to wet their beds, and the academic achievement of many others retreated, their childhood has become a nightmare. This, in fact, is an added serious complication to the poor condition of the social and cultural infrastructure in the camp due to lack of safe and healthy playgrounds, childrenÕs corners, green areas and other physical settings and programs where creative activities could be organized for children.

There is no health center located at Aida camp. The people used to get health services by UNRWA center outside the camp. But during the last Intifada the need for a center inside the camp emerged as the people had no possibility to reach the outside center. This was especially the case in the time of Israeli invasions, which made the people to turn Al-Rowwad Cultural Center into a site for medical help, which was entirely provided by nurses.

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