NEAR AMMAN, JORDAN; VARIOUS LOCATIONS, LEBANON
While politicians and diplomats have debated the plight of Palestine refugees for more than three decades, the people themselves have forged new lives throughout the Middle East.
NEAR AMMAN, JORDAN; VARIOUS LOCATIONS, LEBANON
1. NEAR AMMAN, JORDAN: RECENT. GV PAN Maqaa refugee camp, run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) 0.15
2. GVs & SVs Women buying fruit and vegetables; woman sewing outside her home (4 shots) 0.35
3. GV & SCU INTERIOR Man in workshop (2 shots) 0.46
4. SVs & SCUs Women at well, collecting water; people walking in street; man clearing rubbish from drain (4 shots) 1.10
5. GVs & SVs, SCUs People waiting outside health centre; baby being weighed; child being inoculated and having drops placed in her nose by health workers (3 shots) 1.46
6. MONO: PART-MUTE: LEBANON: 1954: GVs & SVs Tents in refugee camp; women laden with belongings; refugees including children; UNRWA doctor, Mohammad Muzayyin at camp examining refugees; Muzayyin voice over sequences of refugees receiving health care (ENGLISH SOT) (15 shots) 2.45
7. COLOUR: SOUND: NEAR AMMAN, JORDAN: RECENT: GVs & SVs Pharmacy at health centre in Maqaa camp; women receiving drugs (4 shots) 3.11
8. GVs & SVs Health worker lecturing on oral rehydration method; women and children listening; oral rehydration mixture being given to children (5 shots) 3.32
9. SVs & GV Mothers bringing their children to be fed as part of supplementary feeding programme; food being given out; children eating (3 shots) 3.51
10. GV PAN EXTERIOR Women and children in street outside supplementary feeding centre 4.00
MUZAYYIN: (SEQ 6) "In the early '50s, we had to concentrate on the vulnerable groups which included mainly children, pregnant and nursing mothers. Children needed clothing, shoes...needed health, needed education. Before starting organising our services, we used to respond to the immediate need of the health of the refugees but whatever available..."
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Background: NEAR AMMAN, JORDAN; VARIOUS LOCATIONS, LEBANON
While politicians and diplomats have debated the plight of Palestine refugees for more than three decades, the people themselves have forged new lives throughout the Middle East. The majority are fully integrated into communities in their adopted countries and more than 700,000 live in refugee camps in the region. Almost two million Palestine refugees are under the quasi-governmental care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). This UN agency was set up in 1950 with a short-term mandate to provide basic services for refugees fleeing Palestine after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The original short-term aims of the agency have magnified over the past three decades with the need for UNRWA's services as vital as ever.
SYNOPSIS: Maqaa camp...just outside the Jordanian capital, Amman. It's a sprawling, over-crowded town with concrete-box housing for a population of 25,000. While two-thirds of Palestine refugees do not live in camps, the needs of the camp-dwellers still dominate UNRWA's resources.
Maqaa camp bustles with activity. In common with the other refugee camps, it has its own shops, markets, schools and health clinics. But overcrowding is a serious problem. The average family size is seven and most families live in two or three small rooms.
Many people travel from Maqaa to Amman to work in shops or offices; others are employed in the camps. Small businesses like this metal workshop are common in the camps.
Unlike the larger camps, there is no piped water to the houses in Maqaa. But UNRWA provides hygienic water supplies, whether communal as in Maqaa camp or piped directly to houses. UNRWA also employs crews of sanitation workers who maintain drains and clear refuse from the streets. Camp residents are encouraged to undertake self-help projects to improve their environment. UNRWA technical aid and grants back up their programmes.
Every year UNRWA health clinics deal with more than four million patient visits. The health programmes are available to all registered refugees. By necessity, the emphasis is on preventive medicine. UNRWA has 100 health centres, plus special clinics for diabetes, and eye and skin diseases. In addition UNRWA subsidises more than 1,400 beds in local hospitals. With the technical assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNRWA health services have an enviable record. Their refugee communities have never had a serious epidemic of a major infectious disease despite the overcrowding and problems with sanitation and water supplies.
The lives of Palestine refugees today are a for cry from their desperate plight in 1948 when 750,000 Arabs fled their homelands. Emergency aid came from international agencies supported by the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR). In 1950, with hopes fading for a return to Palestine, UNRWA was set up. Dr Mohammad Muzayyin has worked for UNRWA since its inception:
UNRWA's health services include a network of pharmacies, dispensing drugs and medicines often donated by non-governmental humanitarian organisations. UNRWA depends on voluntary contributions for nearly all of its income. Most of this comes from governments and the European community but voluntary organisations, church groups and business interests also donate cash and goods. Despite their generosity, UNRWA faces chronic cash shortages. The system of voluntary contributions breeds uncertainty. The agency begins each financial year with a major deficit and few assurances that its essential work will continue.
Education is a vital part of the preventive health programme. And health workers aim their lectures at refugee mothers in particular. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and gastro-intestinal ailments. An oral rehydration programme has been set up to help them; prepared packets of salts are diluted in water and then spoon-fed to the ailing child.
For children in special need, UNRWA provides a supplementary feeding programme. Additionally, nutritional meals are provided each day for young children and adults with special needs, such as pregnant or nursing mothers. In 1982 a cash crisis, coupled with the increasing self-sufficiency of most refugees, forced UNRWA to phase out its basic rations programme.
More than 30 years after the first Palestine refugees left their homeland, much has changed. But a political solution remains elusive and UNRWA continues to face the task of providing a healthy, stable life for two million refugees.