Refugee camps are un­sus­tain­able

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Mo­hamed Saeed

EAR­LIER this month I, along with oth­ers, vis­ited the Azraq refugee camp in Jor­dan, which is about 100km from the Syr­ian border, to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand the life of refugees with a view to im­prov­ing their lives in a holis­tic way.

Af­ter my visit, I now be­lieve we need to re-look how we view refugees and the es­tab­lish­ment of refugee camps.

The refugee quandary has been go­ing on since World War II and noth­ing has re­ally changed.

The chal­lenges seem to be the same to­day: in­no­cent peo­ple are per­se­cuted, forc­ing them to leave their homes and fam­ily and seek refuge in other coun­tries.

But to spend one’s en­tire life in a refugee camp is un­ac­cept­able. Like other refugee camps in Jor­dan, for ex­am­ple, the Zarqa refugee camp there was es­tab­lished for refugees who left Pales­tine as a re­sult of the 1948 Arab-Is­raeli war. It is still in ex­is­tence. Most of those Pales­tinian refugees and their de­scen­dants liv­ing in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in the Mid­dle East still have refugee sta­tus, which lim­its their ba­sic rights to health care, em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and ci­ti­zen­ship.

There­fore, I be­lieve we need to think out­side the tra­di­tional aid struc­ture sys­tem and re­visit the es­tab­lish­ment of refugee camps.

Very soon refugee camps will be­come un­sus­tain­able. Pi­eter­mar­itzburg

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