Seventy years of ongoing Nakba

Today on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba ('catastrophe') MAP CEO Aimee Shalan writes from Gaza: 

On 15 May we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when three quarters of a million Palestinians were forced to leave their homes. My father, 17 at the time and living in Haifa, was one of them. From Haifa, Safad, Yaffa, Acre, Nazareth and elsewhere, some 100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon and, with their descendants, have been prevented ever since from returning.  

The Palestinians of Lebanon, half of them in 12 overcrowded camps with limited essential services and poor sanitary conditions, are among the worst off in the region. My family were lucky they didn’t end up in one of these camps, whose residents are virtually condemned to poverty, marginalisation and subsequent ill-health. This community has also endured the horrors of the Lebanese Civil War, including massacres and further displacement, disappearances and hunger and so much more besides.

The Palestinians of Lebanon are of course just one segment of the Palestinian refugee diaspora. There are now 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA, in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.  They all continue to suffer the hardships and lack of dignity associated with being refugees. 

At MAP, we are dedicated to working for the health and dignity of Palestinians, whether as refugees or under occupation. I am proud that we have fantastic teams in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon working tremendously hard every day towards those goals.  But it devastates me that this work is still required.  With the death toll and number of casualties rising at such an appalling rate in Gaza today, where I write this now on 14 May, we remember the Nakba and mourn the losses suffered 70 years ago and every day since.