Palestinians mark 71st anniversary of Al Nakba


By Ibrahim Hewitt, Chairman of Trustees for Interpal. Featured in Interpal’s May Newsletter. 

The Nakba began in 1948, since then millions of Palestinians have been denied basic human rights and continue to languish in legal limbo as refugees and displaced people. Interpal is committed to amplifying the voices and needs of Palestinian refugees, and this month we visited the refugee camps in Lebanon to assess what more can be done.

There are now five generations of Palestinians living in such camps across Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine itself. The refugees in Lebanon suffer discrimination and a dire socio-economic situation beyond their control. They are often overlooked, being referred to as the “forgotten refugees”.

The magnitude of deprivation that Palestinians face across their lifetimes cannot be understated. The odds are stacked against Palestinian refugees from birth; the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) can only provide the bare minimum in healthcare and education, and many children begin their lives without access to the most basic necessities.

Those with disabilities will experience barriers to movement, education, healthcare and employment. While families and communities play an important role in tackling the barriers they face, high levels of poverty brought on by continued displacement leave them increasingly vulnerable and isolated from society.

Many children will grow to inherit the trauma of their parents and grandparents, and all those that continue to experience the Nakba that began 71 years ago this May. They will likely experience mental health conditions, including depression, that come with ongoing refugee status, adding to the collective mental health crisis that is already affecting thousands of people.

Just as the anniversary of the Nakba on 15 May highlights the injustices that the first generation faced all those years ago, it is also a reminder that the repercussions of the Nakba and the trans-generational trauma it has caused are ever-present. For many elderly Palestinians, their only hope is that their children’s and grandchildren’s lives do not have the same fate as their own.

Interpal is on the ground in Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, providing relief to thousands of Palestinian refugees. With Ramadan upon us, I ask you to keep Palestinian refugees in your duas and donate to Interpal and so provide some mercy and relief to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

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