Guide Voices from the Camps: A Peoples History of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, 2006

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Marshood is fluent in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. As debate continues about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its root causes simmer, Palestinian refugees have become increasingly invisible.


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Voices from the Camps is about their humanity. This sociological study explores refugee camps in Jordan, where refugees share their plight and narrative of the Nakbeh Catastrophe of They also share their pain, conflicting identities, and aspirations. This book conveys the humanity of the poor, stateless, and invisible, by examining the impacts of displacement, dispossession, and refugee status upon refugees and their descendents as they struggle for survival both as individuals and as a community. This book does not propose solutions; rather, it highlights the human side of the Palestinian trauma and the urgent need for a just solution.

View all posts by falastinpress. You are commenting using your WordPress. UNRWA does not itself run camps, has no police powers or administrative role, but simply provides services in the camp. Refugee camps, which developed from tent cities to dense urban dwellings similar to their urban surroundings, house around one third of all registered Palestine refugees. It is not a governing body as many other UN Agencies maintain, but serves in a purely advisory capacity.

Consisting of five members when it was first created, the Advisory Commission AdCom currently has 27 Members and 3 Observers. Members and Observers meet more regularly through Sub-Committee meetings. All countries considered as hosts of Palestine refugees Jordan, Syria, Lebanon sit on the Advisory Commission, and 24 countries who are major supporters sit on the Commission.

The full list of AdCom members, including the year they joined, are: Services provided by UNRWA include health care, education, relief, and social services and micro-credit loan programmes. Basic education is available to all registered refugee children free of charge up to around the age of Half the Palestine refugee population is under Overcrowded classrooms containing 40 or even 50 pupils are common.

Almost three quarters run on a double-shift system, where two separate groups of pupils and teachers share the same buildings, thus reducing teaching time. The school year is often interrupted by conflicts and children are often marked by trauma. Key figures [ citation needed ]. UNRWA also operates nine vocational and technical training colleges, two educational science faculties, and two teacher-training institutes.

This allows UNRWA pupils to progress to further education or employment holding locally recognised qualifications and compliess with the sovereignty requirements of countries hosting refugees. In Jordan and Syria, children have full access to government schools and many attend those because they are close to where they reside. In Palestinian refugee society, families without a male breadwinner are often very vulnerable. Those headed by a widow, a divorcee. UNRWA provides food aid, cash assistance, and help with shelter repairs to these families. In addition children from special hardship case families are given preferential access to the Agency's vocational training centres, while women in such families are encouraged to join UNRWA's women's programme centres.

In these centres, training, advice, and childcare are available to encourage female refugees' social development. UNRWA has created community-based organizations CBOs to target women, refugees with disabilities, and to look after the needs of children. The CBOs now have their own management committees staffed by volunteers from the community.

UNRWA provides them with technical and small sums of targeted financial assistance, but many have formed links of their own with local and international NGOs. The health of Palestine refugees has long resembled that of many populations in transition from developing world to developed world status. However, there is now a demographic transition. People are living longer and developing different needs, particularly those related to non-communicable diseases NCDs and chronic conditions that require lifelong care, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

A healthy life is a continuum of phases from infancy to old age, each of which has unique, specific needs, and our programme therefore takes a 'life-cycle approach' to providing its package of preventive and curative health services. To address the changing needs of Palestine refugees, we undertook a major reform initiative in The FHT offers comprehensive primary health care services based on wholistic care of the entire family, emphasizing long-term provider-patient relationships and ensuring person-centeredness, comprehensiveness, and continuity.

Moreover, the FHT helps address intersectional issues that impact health, such as diet and physical activity, education, gender-based violence, child protection, poverty, and community development. Medical services include outpatient care, dental treatment, and rehabilitation for the physically disabled.

Taking shelter in a Palestinian refugee camp

School health teams and camp medical officers visit UNRWA schools to examine new pupils to aid early detection of childhood diseases. All UNRWA clinics offer family planning services with counselling that emphasises the importance of birth spacing as a factor in maternal and child health. Agency clinics also supervise the provision of food aid to nursing and pregnant mothers who need it, and six clinics in the Gaza Strip have their own maternity units.

Infant mortality rates have for some time been lower among refugees than the World Health Organisation 's benchmark for the developing world. UNRWA provides refugees with assistance in meeting the costs of hospitalisation either by partially reimbursing them, or by negotiating contracts with government, NGOs, and private hospitals. UNRWA's environmental health services program "controls the quality of drinking water, provides sanitation, and carries out vector and rodent control in refugee camps, thus reducing the risk of epidemics.

UNRWA's Microfinance Department MD aims to alleviate poverty and support economic development in the refugee community by providing capital investment and working capital loans at commercial rates. The programme seeks to be as close to self-supporting as possible.

It has a strong record of creating employment, generating income, and empowering refugees. The Microfinance Department is an autonomous financial unit within UNRWA, established in to provide microfinance services to Palestine refugees, as well as poor or marginal groups living and working in close proximity to them. With operations in three countries, the MD currently has the broadest regional coverage of any microfinance institution in the Middle East. Having begun its operations in the Palestinian territories, it remains the largest non-bank financial intermediary in the West Bank and Gaza.

UNRWA takes a wide variety of action to mitigate the effects of emergencies on the lives of Palestine refugees. Particularly in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip occupied Palestinian territory oPt there has been ongoing intervention made necessary by, e. This work began in , and was made necessary when the camp was destroyed in the fighting between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Fatah al-Islam in Services range from supplying temporary shelter, water, food, clothing, and blankets to temporary job-creation and help for rebuilding.


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There is extensive cooperation with other international NGOs and local actors. To date, UNRWA has participated in re-building 5, homes in Nahr el Bared in Northern Lebanon and has initiated a recovery and reconstruction plan for Gaza including clinics, schools, and housing units. In , the Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations described his country as a "strong supporter" of UNRWA, which acts as "a safety net" for the Palestine refugees, providing them with "immediate relief, basic services and the possibility of a life in dignity".

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On the humanitarian front, UNRWA played a central role in easing the suffering of both refugees and Lebanese civilians during its emergency operations in Lebanon and on the Gaza Strip. MOPAN is network of donor countries with a common interest in assessing the organisational effectiveness of multilateral organisations. MOPAN was established in in response to international fora on aid effectiveness and calls for greater donor harmonisation and coordination.

MOPAN assessments provide a snapshot of four dimensions of organisational effectiveness strategic management, operational management, relationship management, and knowledge management. MOPAN does not examine an organisation's development results. In UNRWA's response, [53] the agency was pleased to note that "many of the challenges highlighted in the report reflect challenges within most, if not all, multilateral organisations.

As Emanual Marx and Nitza Nachmias pointed out in Most of the criticism concerns UNRWA showing the pathology of "aging", including symptoms of inflexibility, resistance to adjust to the changing political environment, and refusal to phase out and transfer its responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority. UNRWA initiated a reform program based on organizational development to improve efficiency in No follow-up can be identified. In addition to challenges in internal operations, there are some more difficult issues which have been pointed out especially, but not solely, by Israel and pro-Israel groups.

UNRWA has been accused of hiring known militants, perpetuating Palestinian dependency, demonizing Israel, and funneling money from Western governments to line the pockets of the Palestinian Authority and purchasing arms for terrorists. However, some argue it serves to perpetuate the conflict. Ideally the UNRWA would be disbanded and Palestinians given the freedom — and the responsibility — to build their own society.

Voices from the Camps: A People's History of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, 2006

The High Commission is mandated to help refugees get on with their lives as quickly as possible, and works to settle them rapidly, most frequently in countries other than those they fled. UNRWA policy, however, states that the Palestinian Arabs who fled from Israel in the course of the war, plus all their descendants, are to be considered refugees until a just and durable solution can be found by political actors. UNRWA was specifically designed not to prescribe how the outcome of an agreement would take shape. Ging argued that there is "no basis to say that it is UNRWA's decision because our mandate is given to us.

I agree that it is a political failure, but we don't set up the mandate, we are only the implementers". We must upgrade UNRWA's financial controls, management, and enforcement of US law that bars any taxpayer dollars from supporting terrorists. UNRWA also mentioned the difficult conditions in which it operates: Palestinian refugees continue to be refugees because the issues which caused their exile remain outstanding. Only by addressing in a just and durable fashion the underlying causes of conflict — and by doing so in accordance with international law and the rights of refugees — can the refugee issue be laid to rest.

This is the responsibility of the parties and international political actors. It is wishful, cynical thinking to suppose that Palestinian refugees can be made to "go away" by dispersing them around the globe or by dissolving the Agency established to protect and assist them pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

And that foreign policy does not serve the best interests of the Palestinian refugees.

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Eid's article, however, has been the subject of criticism for its widespread inaccuracies and almost verbatim paraphrasing of another UNRWA critic. However, what was also striking was the extent to which his piece seemed to simply paraphrase points that were made back in October by perennial anti-UNRWA gadfly David Bedein of the right-wing Arutz Sheva news service. Also published in the Jerusalem Post , UNRWA rejected claims that it supports extremism, or is anti-Israel, and defended its record on the 'effectiveness of our efforts on neutrality'.

The point this approach is stresses, I believe, is not that UNRWA is not necessary or that Palestinian refugeehood is not unique and special, but rather that UNRWA is not currently capable of ensuring necessary protection for Palestinian refugees, and that host Arab states cannot use the uniqueness of Palestinian refugeehood to continue upholding discriminatory laws and policies towards Palestinian refugees. Such a scenario will be felt by Palestinian refugees in particular ways, seeing the absence of alternative sources of income and the restrictive laws and policies that exist in some host countries.

It provides jobs for thousands of refugees, education, health care, and various other services that are extremely valuable and necessary. In Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science at George Washington University , wrote a short but comprehensive review article about textbooks used by Palestinians, focusing especially on changes starting in The Oslo agreements resulted in the dismantling of the Israeli office responsible for censorship of textbooks.

In the beginning, the PA used books from Jordan and Egypt. In it started issuing its own books. Nathan Brown investigated the differences between the new PA books and the ones being replaced [78]. The new books have removed the anti-Semitism present in the older books while they tell history from a Palestinian point of view, they do not seek to erase Israel, delegitimize, it or replace it with the "State of Palestine"; each book contains a foreword describing the West Bank and Gaza as "the two parts of the homeland"; the maps show some awkwardness but do sometimes indicate the line and take some other measures to avoid indicating borders; in this respect they are actually more forthcoming than Israeli maps; the books avoid treating Israel at length but do indeed mention it by name; the new books must be seen as a tremendous improvement from a Jewish, Israeli, and humanitarian view; they do not compare unfavorably to the material my son was given as a fourth-grade student in a school in Tel Aviv ".

Brown has pointed out that research into Palestinian textbooks conducted by the Centre for Monitoring the Impact of Peace in is misleading, because it evaluates the old books; and in , its research mixed old and new books. Its report was completed in March and delivered to the State Department for submission to Congress.

Its executive summary states: It does not openly incite against Israel and the Jews. It does not openly incite hatred and violence. Religious and political tolerance is emphasized in a good number of textbooks and in multiple contexts. IPCRI's June follow-up report notes that "except for calls for resisting occupation and oppression, no signs were detected of outright promotion of hatred towards Israel, Judaism, or Zionism" and that "tolerance, as a concept, runs across the new textbooks". The report also stated that "textbooks revealed numerous instances that introduce and promote the universal and religious values and concepts of respect of other cultures, religions, and ethnic groups, peace, human rights, freedom of speech, justice, compassion, diversity, plurality, tolerance, respect of law, and environmental awareness".

The practice of 'appropriating' sites, areas, localities, geographic regions, etc. The Summary also states that the curriculum asserts a historical Arab presence in the region, while.