They deserve much better

Could decades of shameful treatment be about to change?

After decades of uneasy relations, Lebanon and its Palestinian population are set to embark on a ground-breaking dialogue to improve conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps and curb uncontrolled armed groups.

For Ibrahim Khalil, that could mean an end to the knee-deep sewage that pours into his home during winter rains.

Our homes are all damp and humid and not fit to live in. When it rains, my home is flooded with sewage because the drains can’t take it. And this is the good part of the camp,” says the Palestinian resident of this squalid refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese town of Sidon.

I saw some of these homes during my travels around the Palestinian refugee camps in early 2005. It was shocking to see hundreds of thousands of people living in squalor, ignored by the world, and only supported by the UN. I was struck, however, by the pride of many refugees in the face of such appalling conditions.

The Lebanese government has spent decades neglecting, and discriminating against, the Palestinians living in their country. Often the Palestinian leadership has been equally careless. As usual, Israel claims no responsibility for the refugees and the US couldn’t care less.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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