August 5th – Visit in Nablus

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Batara refugee Camp

“Our biggest problem is overcrowding … like you already heard, we are 24.000 people in one square kilometer.” (one of the residents of the Batara refugee camp)

After visiting the An-Najah National University in Nablus to meet with the public relations officer we went to the Batara refugee camp close to Nablus.

The long term refugees originally came after the war in 1948 and the Naqba, the huge scale expell of Palestinians from their land and homes in today Israeli territority. About 700.000 people lost access to their homes and about 400 Palestinian villages had been destroyed by the Israeli army or by Israeli settlers.

Today the population in the Occupied Territories consists of 40% of these refugees, in Gaza even of two thirds. Partly the refugees live with unclear status in refugee camps in Jordan, Lybia or Syria. All in all they are deprived of their legal right to return.

In Batara today 24.000 people live in an area of one sqare kilometer. Most of the families came from the today Israeli town of Jaffa. 50% of the population consists of teenagers and kids. The refugees receive support from the UN refugee organisation UNRWA. They live in regular houses and can move freely in the Westbank. Even so the unemployement rate in the Batara camp is about 50% most people stay in the camp since they live close to their fellows and neighboors. Most of them still hope to be able to return one day. Some of them still have the keys to their old houses.

pictures: market street in Nablus … mural in the Happy Childhood Club in Batara (“If we want to have peace we will have to begin with the children” – Gandhi) … tour through the refugee camp … pictures of Batara residents who fought and got killed during the first and second intifida in front of the entrance to the graveyard.

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