Sunday, February 19, 2012
A view of the crowded streets in Balata Refugee Camp
A video-portrait of Balata Refugee Camp, created by Giorgio Algeri – January 30, 2012
By Giorgio Algeri
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Balata Rufegee Camp, near Nablus, has the highest ratio of population per square meter in the West Bank. At least 20,000 people live in less than one square kilometer. More than sixty years since its establishment, and the camp continues to grow.
As: “Lack of privacy, and no closed doors create a lot of social problems,” said Mahmoud Subuh, Director of International Relations at Yafa Cultural Centre. The high density is matched with a high unemployment rate. Residents of the camp are uncertain about their future, contributing to social and psychological problems among the population.
When The Palestine Monitor visited the camp on 21-23 January, it was evident how its inhabitants suffer from litte private space. As an example, we were told how residents have built “their walls” to refrain other people from passing through the alleyways.
Open spaces for socio-cultural activities are inadequate. However, some residents decorated the designated public spaces with colorful graffiti. A significant number of refugees come fromJaffa, so many painted their images of theMediterranean Sea.
Others decided to assert the importance of their own culture and identity, painting traditional ceramic jars, the olive tree, an oud and the Haram Ash-Sharif inJerusalem.
Balata Refugee Camp was established to be a “temporary solution” after the 1948 War, after which the State of Israel was established. Eventually, it became a “permanent temporary solution.”
Over time, its population has become increasingly demanding. In particular, the younger generation of refugees has been exposed to the influence of new technologies and lifestyles. As Subuh remarked, this is why “young generations feel more frustrated today.”
Photo by Giorgio Ageri