Matching my theme 'A Trip into the Hollier-Than-Thou-Land', there is a great exhibition entitled: "The Nakba - Flight and Expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948'. It is organized by the association 'Refugee Children in Lebanon e.V'. This exhibition features in an impressive way the perspective of the displaced Palestinians. It is a wonderful, supplementary documentation for my own pictures 'Jaffa' and 'Masada 2010'.
After the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and the resulting war between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states, Israel evicted or caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee to close-by Arab countries [al-Nakba]. 100,000 of them took refuge in Lebanon. Today more than 390,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, most of them in refugee camps [map]. They represent 11% of the Lebanese population.
The devastating Lebanese civil war (1975 - 1990) has left deep physical and psychological wounds in the Palestinian community. Poverty, limited educational opportunities and social marginaliza-tion have robbed the Palestinian refugees of prospects for a better future. Until today they have been denied all civil rights. With very few exceptions they are not permitted to work outside the camps.
Lebanon is economically weak and politically unstable and therefore not able or willing to integrate the Palestinians. In the Oslo agreement and other ongoing peace initiatives between Israel and the PLO, the refu-gees and their legitimate rights are not even mentioned. They are forgotten by the world and their own political leaders, reduced to resignation and despair. Peace in the region will only be possible as long as the legitimate claims of the Palestinian refugees are taken into account.
The main source of support for the Palestinian refugees is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was founded in 1949. However, the support provided UNRWA is completely insufficient, without additional assistance from other non-governmental relief organisations the social structure of the refugee camps would fall apart.