Thousands Isolated in a Sea of Destruction
Bourj El Barajneh Refugee camp.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
First I would like to start with the situation here in
Al Bourj camp is located in the southern suburb of
As you could perceive I am the director of the Women's Humanitarian Organization in the camp as the war started people rushed to the supermarkets to supply with food but the supermarkets and shops were empty during the first hours. Immediately, the first idea that came up to my mind was how to aid my people in the camp and provide them with prompt assistance as a result of the severe conditions the Palestinians were living before and during the war were lamentable.80% of them are unemployed or have part time jobs and sometimes seasonal jobs. They earn their livings on day by day basis. So the critical question is how they could manage through this hard situation.
On 15-07-06,I visited the camp searching for answers to my question. I found out that people have decided to stay in the camp due to lack of any other place they can resort to due to shortage of money and housing. For to leave the camp it will cost them a lot in order to find a place and hire a car especially that they don't wish to relive the experience of being refugees for the second time. They told me we are already refugees do we need to be refugees again ? Today, 18-07-06 I went again to the camp and god grief I cant really describe that horrific trip. My car was the only moving vehicle Everywhere was in deep silence and destruction. It's only 4 km from my house to the camp the first half of the way was manageable but as we approached the camp it seemed to me from the first impression as if haunted by ghosts. No one can enter the area as it is extremely dangerous with the bombed airport on one side and the now totally destroyed Shi suburbs on the other.
It was a scene of total devastation with all the buildings and roads totally smashed. I was shocked and overwhelmed. There was the smell of death and destruction everywhere.
The moment I entered the camp I felt I was on an island so isolated from the surrounding. I joined the other NGOs and arranged for an emergency meeting with them for a long term plan to aid the camp. We didn't know where to start from, the needs were so massive and beyond our expectations. It's true that we have had a long experience during the past war but the situation now is different.
For now we have no hierarchal structure in the camp or maybe has almost disappeared. In the past the PLO was in charge and provided people with all the assistance, but now the question is who could carry this burden along with us (NGOs)? Even the NGOs are very tight with funds. All the shelters in the camp are not viable for protection at all. They have not been used since 1987 not even enough medical resources. The women, children and elderly are terrified and trapped after days of sustained brutal bombing of the entire area around our camp. There is no electricity, no fuel for the generators, no medial supplies and we are in urgent need of food and drugs for the children and the elderly.
As a result of our meeting all NGOs and activists have agreed upon the following needs:
Raising health & medical awareness regarding the situation especially that they are using chemical weapons and bombs and people need to be aware how to deal with such a situation. Babies' and children's food, mainly milk and diapers. Emergency medications: ventoline, for asthma, diabetic tablets, medicine for high blood pressure. Dressing materials, cardiac medicine, antipyretic, antibiotics, and medicine for diarrhea. Candles and matches. Drinking water, the camp lacks sources of water (people usually buy the drinking water) Detergent and insecticide. First aid workers (run courses) Gasoline for electricity generators for the hospitals, Fire extinguishers, First aid kits and stretchers. Electricity generators to facilitate life and for the work of the NGOs.
Our recent statistics show the following:
200 families fled into the camp from the surrounding area(those who lived for a long time ago outside the camp in Hezbollah area )and have no other place to resort to in
1500 children under 6 years. 450 elderly with chronic diseases. 20,000 living in the camp.
By the end of the meeting we divided ourselves and took upon our responsibilities different tasks upon which to clean the shelters and mobilize ourselves for emergencies hoping to receive the support and funds on time to be able to provide our people with the urgent supplies and provisions needed. I left the camp praying to god to keep this road safe in order to come back again to our people with the aid and help.
We are facing a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale and we call on the international community to stop
For contact: Women's Humanitarian Organization Director Olfat Mahmoud Phone no: 00961 3 019 775(mobile) Tel& fax: 00961 1 840 239 e-mail: email@example.com