Remembering the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 36 years on

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The massacre at Sabra and Shatila 36 years ago was a tragic and horrifying chapter in Palestinian history.

On 16 September 1982, hundreds of members of the Phalange party (a Lebanese Christian militia), under the approving eye of Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, entered Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. 3,000 Palestinian refugees were killed. Among the victims were infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Today, life remains difficult in Shatila refugee camp. Originally built in 1949 for the capacity of about 3,000 people, it is now home for up to 22,000, despite the size of the camp remaining relatively unchanged since it was first established. With only intermittent electricity available and contaminated water supplies, poverty levels remain worryingly high- more than 60% of the 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line. They are also denied basic civil, social, political and economic rights.

To find out more about the Sabra and Shatila massacre, you can read the survivors’ stories here.