Dheisheh Refugee Camp
Dheisheh Refugee Camp is located in Bethlehem Governorate (2.2km horizontal Distance) south-west of Bethlehem City in the occupied West Bank, it is one of the 58 recognized Palestinian refugee camps administered by United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The camp was a temporary sanctuary away from the destruction of 532 Palestinian cities and villages, and expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe). The residents of Dheisheh originated from 46 villages’ including Jerusalem, Ramle, Asqalan and Hebron cities; the descendants now comprise the 13,017 inhabitants of the camp today, living on less than one square kilometer of land rented by the UNRWA. According to the results of the PCBS Population, Housing and Establishment Census- 2007, the illiteracy rate among Dheisheh camp population is approximately 5.7 percent, of whom 73.3 percent are females. The boys and girls schools which are run by UNRWA face structural problems, such as size of schools in comparison with the number of students, causing overcrowded classrooms, constant shortage of teaching staff, the lack of secondary schools, and above all violations and harassment by the Israeli occupation forces ( IOF). UNRWA runs medical clinic that has a physician’s clinic, a dental clinic, a radiology center, a laboratory for medical analysis, motherhood and childhood center, a pharmacy, and a physiotherapy center. These services are impeded by lack of doctors, insufficient supply of medications, and a shortage of modern medical equipment. The resident of the camp are dependent on several economic sectors, largely the service sector and the Israeli labor market, however, the unemployment rate in camp has reached about 40 percent. Dheisheh refugee camp has an active civil society, there are number of local institutions and associations that provide services to various segments of the society: children, youth, and women. The services are in the areas of culture, sports and others. Although Dheisheh has a highly resilient and active community, the people have endured many struggles. Until the IOF redeployment in 1995, the camp was surrounded with a high barbed-wire fence that sealed all but one of 14 entrances, and the IOF controlled the one with a revolving gate. The Social Youth Activity Center, which was the primary youth organization in the camp, was closed by military order from 1981 until 1993. Soldiers and violent confrontations filled the alleys, killing tens of residents, while hundreds were injured, imprisoned and disabled for life. During the peace process years, the plight of refugees was largely ignored in the negotiation framework, leaving them with a feeling of sheer desperation and total stagnation.
Why Shoruq started in Dheisheh Refugee Camp?
This location was chosen for several reasons and not due to impromptu fashion. Dheisheh Refugee Camp as other Palestinian refugee camps exists since decades in the near east, with forceful social, economical and political implications due to the protracted status of Palestinian refugees. As Shoruq is a Palestinian refugee driven organization, the best place to be situated is among its people. Although, Shoruq aims at serving Palestinian refugee communities in and off the camp locally and regionally, Dheisheh Refugee camp sounds like a good fit for launching our programs. Dheisheh camp had taught generations of the importance of fight for social and political rights, regardless of the direct oppression practices against inhabitants of the camp resulting from long persistence fight for their rights. Also, Dheisheh is known for its active civil society organizations, and it would be an enabling environment for Shoruq to grow in, and engage in direct partnership serving the local community organizations and groups. Shoruq officially opened its offices in August of 2012, from the outset focused most of the work on the preparatory meetings and strategic planning for the Foundation, these meetings included administrative arrangements and structural, planning workshops, meetings with stakeholders and the different categories of the community in the Dheisheh refugee camp