On Monday the Excellence Centre visited the Al Fawar Refugee camp located in the South of Hebron. The camp has ten thousand inhabitants housed within one square kilometer of land. The inhabitants include those who were displaced in 1948, when thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes as their villages were razed by the new Israeli forces.
We spoke with one such woman who was a part of the original exodus of people from the villages to the refugee camp in 1948. When she arrived she was aged only ten. She spoke described how at first the refugees were housed in tents provided by the UN. This was an incredibly hard way of life for the refugees, especially during t he harsh Hebron winters I which the tent provided little relief from the biting winds, icy rain and heavy snow which are a feature of every winter here.
The UN provided the refugees with basic tents in 1948; once it became clear that the refugees would not be returning to their homes in the foreseeable future the UN provided the refugees with very basic, one-roomed houses. There were often families of ten or more living in only one room with only the most basic services.
Now however, the refugee camp resembles something more akin to a favela. The refugees have become permanent inhabitants of the camp, as more refugees flooded to it in 1967. They have built their own houses in any space that is available to them. This has resulted in the camp becoming a warren of houses, built one on top of the other, and narrow pathways covered by grape vines which provide shade to the old men of the camp who sit out in the evenings.