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On the Occasion of the 52nd Anniversary of UN Resolution 194: Invitation to Press, Diplomatic Missions, Staff of International Organizations to Guided Tour of Bethlehem Area Refugee Camps

Stocktaking of damages incurred by the Israeli occupation, refugee needs and demands

  • Date, time: Tuesday, 19 December 2000, 10-12:a.m.
  • Organizer: BADIL Resource Center, BADIL Friends Forum;

YESTERDAY, 11 December 2000 marked the 52nd anniversary of UN Resolution 194 (1948) which established the international consensus about the proper solution of the Palestinian refugee question: return to their homes - restitution of property - compensation. While Palestinian refugees have continued to implementation of this solution, Israel has rejected any solution based on UN Resolution 194.

YESTERDAY, 11 December 2000, Palestinian refugees, residents of 'Aida, Beit Jibrin/'Azza, and Deheishe camps in the Bethlehem district, were again targets of Israeli gun- and tank fire - a brutal reminder of the anniversary of their rights denied and their issue unresolved.
Palestinian refugees have been strongly affected by Israel's military and economic policies applied in the past two-and-a-half months in order to suppress the Palestinian uprising. Due to their vicinity to Israeli military installations, settlements and by-pass roads, the refugee camps of 'Askar/Nablus, 'Aida and Beit Jibrin/Bethlehem, Aqbat Jaber/Jericho, Shati, Jabalya, Rafah and Khan Younis/Gaza have become repeated targets of Israeli attacks by heavy weapons - rockets, shells, 500mm and 800mm ammunition fired from high-caliber automatic weapons, tanks, and helicopter gunships - in addition to attacks perpetrated by Israeli settlers which have been recorded also in al-Fawwar camp/Hebron. Damages to family homes caused by indiscriminate Israeli shelling are especially large in the densely built-up refugee camps, where makeshift constructions are less resistant to attacks by heavy Israeli ammunition and missiles, and shock and anxiety attacks, especially among the children and elderly, spread among the whole crowded camp population. 

Palestinian refugees, especially camp refugees, are a landless, economically marginalized population. Owning no means of subsistence, they are completely dependent upon income from employment and labor. Israel's closure of its labor market to Palestinians, as well as restrictions on movement within the occupied territories have thus an especially devastating impact on refugee families, whose limited savings are rapidly consumed in times of unemployment. According to UNSCO , at least 40 percent of the labor force in the 1967 occupied territories is currently unemployed, causing economic distress to 45.5 percent of the population. It is expected that by the end of December, the poverty rate (less than US 2.1 consumption per person per day) will rise to 31.8 percent, as compared to 21.1 percent in September 2000. Although exact figures are not yet available, it must be assumed that the poverty rate among the refugee population is even higher.

BADIL Resource Center and the BADIL Friends Forum invite you to examine the current situation in the Bethlehem area refugee camps, to visit camp organizations and to discuss with refugee rights activists about refugee needs and perspectives, both in the current situation and with regard to a just and durable solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

PROGRAM (19-12-2000):

09:30 a.m.: Meeting at BADIL Resource Center (Beit Jala, next to Bab-al-Zqaq junction on the main Betlehem-Hebron road)
10:00 - 11:15: Guided visit to camps
11:15 - 12:00: Discussion with refugee community activists at Al-Awda Community Center, Beit Jibrin/'Azza Camp;

Please confirm your participation at: BADIL Resource Center (Muhammad Jaradat), 02-2747346 or 052-360769