Thursday, July 25, 2013

Syrian Refugees in Jordan

A few days ago, I received the following email from my friend Yuhki Ohnogi, who I met when working in Nablus. I thought that it would be important to share:
I'm right now in Irbid, north of Jordan. Since May, I've been taking an Arabic course here. Irbid is located very close to the border with Syria and 2km away from Irbid is the second largest refugee camp in the world- Zaatari refugee camp. The camp is accommodating 150,000 refugees from Syria. Although they are free from all miserable fighting, their life is far from comfortable. Because of lack of support from international communities, every day they wake up to ask themselves as to how to survive for a day. Even though they are provided with basic living items, they have to sell them to make some money to buy food. Technically, they can not work in Jordan without going through an official work permit process, which is now impossible. Recently, I came across this organisation called "Voice". They work with the Syrian youth who are living in Zaatari refugee camp. They interview the people in the camp and collect their stories.
Yukhi also included this link to the organization's website.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Neighborhood

My Neighborhood is a documentary about settler expansion in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. The film is narrated by seventh-grader, Mohammed, who sagely and poetically describes the violent changes to his home and his neighborhood as a result of settler expansion. The film explores Mohammed's feelings towards the settlers and his evolving opinions about the Israeli people. It's short (about 25 minutes), yet extremely powerful.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Settlements

Al-Jazeera published an article today about Palestinian children working in Israeli settlements. Israeli settlements have been deemed illegal according to international law. In the Jordan Valley, there are approximately 60,000 Palestinians and 9,500 Israelis living in 37 settlements.

Between 10000 to 20,000 Palestinians work inside Jordan Valley settlements, which varies according to the season. Five to ten percent of these numbers are child workers. These children often forgo school in order to make money for their families, who are often in or on the brink of poverty. There is a high drop out rate in the Jordan Valley because of the weak educational system, lack of adequate infrastructure, and Israeli restrictions on building new schools for Palestinians. According to a 2012 report from the Ma'an Development Centre, during the 2011/2012 school year, there were 10,000 children living in this area who started the school year in tents, caravans, or tin shacks. The report also notes that nearly one-third of schools here lack adequate water and sanitation facilities.

Children have been employed by settlers to clean, lift boxes, pick and package vegetables and fruit, working in extreme heat (up to 50-degrees Celcius) for eight to nine hour shifts. They earn approximately 50-90NIS ($14-$25) per shift, which is about 25-50 percent what they are entitled to under Israeli labor laws.

The short article is worth reading, as it touches upon the tough decisions children make in deciding to work in this context, including the push and pull factors hat influence their decisions.

[Photo: Ma'an Development Centre / Al Jazeera]