Stories from Shatila camp, 39 years on from a tragedy

Thirty-nine years ago this week, Lebanese militias entered the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila, and over three days killed and injured hundreds of unarmed Palestinian and other civilians. Israeli forces, which had invaded Lebanon earlier that year, had surrounded and sealed the camp, and had full knowledge of what was taking place inside but did not intervene. Instead, they illuminated the camp throughout the night by launching flares into the sky from helicopters and mortars. The perpetrators have never been held accountable, and the families of victims never attained justice.

Palestinians in the camp, displaced from their homeland for more than 73 years, are still physically and psychologically scarred by the events in 1982. Now, they are witnessing Lebanon’s latest catastrophe – a severe economic crisis.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) spoke to three Palestinian refugees in Shatila camp who shared their stories of a tragedy they will never forget.

“The steadfastness and courage of Sabra and Shatila are in all of our hearts. Today we commemorate the cruel injustice inflicted on Palestinians in the massacre in 1982, knowing that this is just one of the continuous assaults on Palestinians since 1948. We resolve to continue to be with you all on your difficult journey in solidarity, hope and love, knowing that one day the freedom and peace stolen from the Palestinian people for all these years will be won back through your struggle. We commemorate with tears, but pledge our commitment to this struggle with all our strength and lives. We know the day will come when our children's laughter will be the reward of years of sacrifice and endurance.” – Dr Swee Chai Ang FRCS, a founding trustee of MAP and honorary patron.

Content warning: These interviews contain potentially distressing details of violent attacks on civilians.

“My younger brother and I were the only survivors in the family”

Read Nohad's story

“On that day, I believe we survived only because God did not want us to die”

Read Abbas' story

“Life has to go on, but we can never forget the massacre”

Read Laila's story

You can support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon during the economic crisis by making a donation to MAP today.

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