Wall graphite in the Palestinian refugee camp of Aida in the West Bank. Credit: Alethea Kanas

Aida Camp: Where Palestinians remain refugees for the 7th decade

  Most survive with the basics, feel daily the pains of a struggle that seems endless, but still feed the hope of returning home

By Alethea Kanas 

In Brazil, little is known about the real complexity of the problem that has existed for decades between Israel and Palestine. But the “catastrophe,” so termed by the Palestinians, can be briefly understood if we think from May 14, 1948, when Israel was founded and 750,000 of them had to flee their homes to neighboring countries or were expelled by Israeli troops .

The year 1948 was only the beginning of a struggle that lasts until today and seems far from a peace agreement. But the question is, “How and where do these refugees live today?” About 5,000 are in the Aida refugee camp. Hundreds of them felt the whole change in their lives, and the rest was their inheritance from a lifetime of suffering and struggle for freedom.

Aida camp was created in 1950 in the West Bank, more precisely in Bethlehem. The city is considered sacred because, according to the Bible, it was the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A region that supposedly should reign peace, is the scene of a conflict that seems eternal, a pan of pressure, always about to explode.

An agreement between Israel and Palestine is complicated, as conflicts go beyond religious divergence, money, territory strife, and political issues. It moves with the ego, the will to exercise the freedom to come and go and with the future of thousands of families, mixed with grief of what has already passed and indignation on the part of those who lost house, family members and even the identity itself, Palestinian territory is not officially considered a country – although it is considered observer member of the UN, same status conferred to the Vatican.

Entrance to the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank. Credit: Alethea Kanas

The camp was set up by UNRWA, the UN agency specifically responsible for Palestinian refugees, which leased it from the Jordanian government – which then controlled the region.

Data from the UNHCR Global Trends report indicate that there are 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the world, all under UNRWA mandate.