Seeking truth and justice

Elijah Interfaith Institute in Jerusalem offers a study on leadership in world religions

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews, Muslims, Vatican

Elijah Interfaith institute in Jerusalem offers a study on leadership in world religions

JERUSALEM – The 2016 edition of the summer school of the Elijah Interfaith institute brought together over 25 students from 10 countries, Jews and Christians, to study the theme of leadership in world religions. On August 4th, Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, offered a lecture on Christian leadership in general and in particular the leadership of Pope Francis.

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Ben Ehrenreich’s New Palestine Book Explores Life on “Planet Hebron”

Posted on Aug 22, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine

You need a good reason to write or read a book on Palestine these days. Not only is the field over-tilled, it has become boring. We all know the facts or imagine we do, however differently we interpret them. To justify a new book, you have to provide new facts or a new way of looking at old ones. Ehrenreich does both. Many of his facts are new to us, his intended Western readership, if not to the Palestinians and Israelis who live them.

by Charles Glass*

When I moved to Lebanon in 1972, a joke was doing the rounds about an Englishman, a Frenchman, and an Arab tasked to write books about elephants. The Englishman wrote How to Hunt Elephants, and the Frenchman came up with Recipes for Cooking Elephants à la Française. The Arab, meanwhile, produced 12 volumes titled The Elephant and the Palestine Problem. Since then, publishers have poured out thousands of tomes on Palestine and Israel, some bad, some good. Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to Spring: Life and Death in Palestine is the latest, and it is excellent.

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Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: Water can’t wait!

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine

151210 Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Tell Congress to support equal water rights for Palestinians and Israelis

Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

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Water in the Village, or Is that No Water in the Village?

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Narrative, NGO, Palestine

Taybeh sits on one of the highest hills overlooking the Dead Sea. It has 30,000 olive trees that need water. (Photo courtesy of the Taybeh Group Photo Archives)

By Maria Khoury

It is almost a miracle when you manage to make beer without a guarantee that you will have running water most days of the week. Since Amnesty International’s 2009 report on water shortage in Palestine, you may be aware of this issue and its effect on local farming. But the issue has far-reaching consequences that affect all kinds of sectors in our local economy. Let me give you an example: a premium high-quality boutique beer consists of 90 percent water that, most of the time, is scarce, especially along the higher elevations on the arid edge of the Jordan Valley.

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Thirst and narrative

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace

The Ministry for Strategic Affairs has established an ten-member inter-ministerial team, charged with formulating an alternative narrative [that Israel is not a pariah state], and Israel will make every effort to get it accepted by the world. The ultimate goal is to instill this alternate narrative globally during the next ten years, until 2025. “For me, victory means a narrative change in the world’s perception of Israel. That the world will no longer equate Israel with Apartheid” she noted.

by Adam Keller, Co-founder of Gush Shalom Israeli peace movement

“Here at Fasayil, in the Jordan Valley, we get water twice a week,” explained our host, to the group of activists from Tel Aviv. “Twice a week the water is flowing through this little water pipe which you see here on the ground, a pipe with a 20 mm diameter. When the large container is full we distribute the water among all the families, it has to last for three days. And by the way, we are more fortunate compared to the Palestinian communities more north. To them, Israel does not give any water at all, and often the soldiers even confiscate the water which they buy for themselves. That is because the area where they live had been declared as a firing range, and the army says they are living there illegally. So far, they did not declare Fasayil a firing range. “

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Jesuit Document on the Middle East

Posted on Aug 20, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Human rights, Interreligious dialogue, Islamic State, Israel, Jews, Jordan, Justice, Middle East, Muslims, NGO, Palestine, Peace, Syria, World

jesuit logoIn a new document, Jesuits involved in the Middle East call on the international community to take on a “sense of responsibility” for conflicts in the region and to abandon “the Machiavellian behaviors, passive attitudes and ideological battles” that for too long have stood in the way of lasting peace. The text, “Middle East: Searching for the Word,” which was produced at the request of the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., highlights the plight of Christians, who are often persecuted because of their perceived identification with the West and existing regimes or because their faith. The authors note that while the Arab Spring of 2011 failed to translate into successful political and economic programs, Christians and all Arabs should see signs of hope in the widespread desire for a system of government “based on the values of modernity, democracy, human rights, social justice, and cultural openness.” In countries that lack democratic traditions, they say, there must be “education for citizenship,” which “requires genuine familiarity with human rights” and “respects cultural and religious plurality.”  The text follows:

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Celtic Fans Fly Palestinian Flags Against Israeli Team as European Tie Turns Political

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, Justice, Palestine, World

Celtic is a football club with Irish Roman Catholic roots and the majority of the fans are Catholic. Irish Catholics are known for being notably pro-Palestinian in their leaning on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with many viewing the Palestinian cause as similar to that of the Irish under British occupation in Northern Ireland. Israel maintains a military occupation over Palestinians in the West Bank and a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The Celtic fans held aloft flags emblazoned with the Palestinian colors and skulls wrapped in the traditional Arab keffiyeh head dress. Reuters/Russell Cheyne

By , Newsweek,

The fans of Scottish football team Celtic defied Europe’s footballing body and police to make a political protest against their team’s Israeli opponents, Hapoel Beer Sheva FC, on Wednesday night, with hundreds flying the Palestinian flag.

Sections of Celtic Park in Glasgow became a sea of green , red, black and white as the Scots refused to adhere to a UEFA ban on the protest against Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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Israel demolishing more Palestinian buildings, says UN

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, World

It was the third time this year that Israel has torn down French-financed structures, including the dismantling of a school in February.

A Palestinian boy walks past a pile of rubble after Israeli authorities demolished a building in the village of Sebastia, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on August 9, 2016. Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP

(Agence France-Presse) RAMALLAH, August 12, 2016 – Israel has razed more Palestinian homes and other structures so far this year than in all of 2015, the United Nations said on Friday.

Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem have demolished 726 structures this year, displacing 1,020 Palestinians, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said.

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World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel #DismantlingBarriers

Posted on Aug 18, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World


World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel
18 – 24 September 2016
“God has broken down the dividing walls”
An initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2016 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.

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Animal Health and Wealth in Palestine

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Middle East, Palestine

The Separation Wall along the western border of the West Bank has reduced the areas available to herders for grazing their flocks.

by Iyad Adra, Mohamad Issa, and Bassam Abu Aziz

Archaeological evidence shows that the Middle East, particularly the Levant region and the Jordan Valley, was the starting point for animal domestication more than eight thousand years ago. Since then, the people living in this area have relied on animals to support their livelihoods, and even now, Palestinian farmers raise and breed livestock as a source of food and income. Traditionally, the raising of small ruminants (sheep and goats) has been the largest segment of the agricultural sector. However, farming and herding sheep and goats is still managed mainly in traditional ways and with methods that have been inherited within families.

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Israeli army donkey sales stir Palestinian outrage

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine

Al-Maleh (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – “Forty donkeys for sale,” reads a notice in Palestinian newspapers. Nothing out of the ordinary about that, except for the fact that the advertiser is the Israeli army.

Palestinians say the army is trying to sell back the very animals it seized from them in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley.

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Animal Biodiversity in Palestine

Posted on Aug 17, 2016 in Holy Land, NGO, Palestine, World


by Mazin Qumsiyeh

At the crossroads of three continents, Palestine is located in the western part of the Fertile Crescent that connects Africa with Eurasia. This location and the associated geologic activities over the past 100 million years have ensured a unique and rich fauna, flora, and human history. The diverse habitats include five ecozones that range from the Central Highlands to the Semi-Coastal Region, Eastern Slopes, the Jordan Rift Valley, and the Coastal regions, and cover four bio-geographical regions (Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanese/Ethiopian). It is thus not surprising that this small country is biologically more diverse than some countries ten times its size.

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Want to help persecuted Christians? A few easy steps

Posted on Aug 16, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, Iraq, Islamic State, Justice, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslims, Syria, World

Kevin J. Jones

By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency

Toronto, Canada, Aug 4, 2016 / 01:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Middle East Christians need help to survive, and leaders in the relief effort have outlined what the average Catholic can do.

“They can speak out. They should talk with their parish. And they should pray,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, told CNA Aug. 3.

Echoing his call to action was Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil in northern Iraq.

“Pray for them. Tell their story. Raise awareness about persecution. Give aid,” he said. The archbishop encouraged Americans and Canadians to try to put pressure on their politicians “to really adjust the whole political vision of America, Canada and the Middle East.”

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In Beirut, Protestants and non-Protestants highlight Reformation

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Egypt, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslims, World

151126 World Council of Churches logoBy Katja Buck*

What does the impending 500th anniversary mean outside its European birthplace?

In the Middle East, Reformation stands for a strong legacy yet also the uncertain future of a tiny and splintered minority. The churches of the Reformation remain important within the constellation of Christian groups, say non-evangelical Christians, who call upon them to lead in ecumenical outreach to newer charismatic and Pentecostal groups.

Protestantism in the Middle East has a short history. In the mid-19th century, Protestant missionaries came from North America and Europe, bringing with them the idea of the Reformation as standing for freedom of conscience and a Bible-centred life. They founded schools and universities, built hospitals and started widespread social work. Although mixed with elements of Western cultural imperialism, their work began a transformation of society that is still evident today.

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JVP Response to the Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, Palestine, Peace, World

Logo04 August 2016 Organizing/Press Release

Jewish Voice for Peace is following the leadership of Jews of Color in partnership with JVP as to how we can best contribute to realizing the demands and vision for Black lives laid out in the inspiring, bold Movement for Black Lives platform. Because the leadership team of JVP is currently all white Ashkenazi Jews, we are slowing down to ensure our members who are Jews of Color can lead the way, particularly in matters of racial justice. This is part of our ongoing project to dismantle white supremacy inside of JVP.

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“Genocide,” Torah, & “Black Lives Matter”: Anguish & Debate in the Jewish Community

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, Palestine, Peace, World

The Shalom Center logo


by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Part 1: “Genocide,” Black Lives Matter, & the Jewish Community

[The week of August 4] a nation-wide network of “Black Lives Matter” activists, newly organized as “Movenent for Black Lives” (M4BL), published a remarkable platform for social change toward racial justice in America. Every American should read it —  see https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/

The platform has thousands of words that address both comprehensively and in great detail what it would take to fully end the legacy of slavery and the constant resurgence of racism in the US. It also addresses forms of oppression that echo racism in non-“racial” arenas, such as the oppression of sexual and gender minorities and the use of overwhelming US military power against various peoples around the world. Among these thousands of words is this one paragraph.

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FOSNA Endorses Vision for Black Lives

Posted on Aug 14, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Human rights, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Muslims, Palestine, Peace, World

A Christian Voice for Palestine

Friends of Sabeel North America wholeheartedly endorses the
Movement for Black Lives platform and commits to challenging the systems of
supremacy foundational to the occupation of Palestine and oppression of Black
people in the United States.

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9th Christian Denomination to Take Economic Action for Justice in Palestine

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Christians, Ecumenism, Holy Land, Human rights, Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace

A sea of green as Lutherans vote in favor of an investment screen

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted overwhelmingly (by an estimated 90%) to create an investment screen that would identify and remove the Church’s investments in corporations profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, and other human rights abuses around the world. The new screen has a broad reach, ensuring that the Church would avoid investments in corporations currently complicit in human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation, as well as any future corporations that become complicit.

Lutherans vote overwhelmingly to end unconditional U.S. aid to Israel.

Just yesterday, the ELCA voted by a margin of 82% — 751 to 162 — calling for an end to unconditional U.S. aid to Israel.

ELCA marks the ninth denomination to engage in economic acts of conscience to support justice for Palestinians, following the Quakers, Mennonite Central Committee, United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Alliance of Baptists — many of those in 2016 alone!

Pastor Khaled Khalila testifies about living as a Palestinian under Israeli occupation

ELCA voting member Darla Thiele, Dakota name Shining Star Woman, had this to say before the vote:

As a Native woman, the situation in Palestine reminds me of what my people have gone through here in America. I have seen my people lose our land, our lives, our culture — our songs, dances, spiritual ways. Like the Palestinians, we have no justice. Treaties have been broken… We talk about loving our neighbor. We talk about justice. But where is the justice?… Now is the time for the church to stop profiting from these injustices. Now is the time to bring healing, to bring peace, to bring justice.

Director of Organizing & Advocacy with voting Palestinian members of Isaiah 58.

The US Campaign was proud to work alongside Isaiah 58 and allies from member groups Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), American Friends Service Committee, Friends of Sabeel – North America, New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee, and Jewish Voice for Peace on the ground in support of this crucial effort.

Anna Baltzer

Anna Baltzer signature
Anna Baltzer
Director of Organizing & Advocacy
End the Occupation

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A Palestinian Christian reflects on terrorism

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Christians, Holy Land, Jews, Middle East, Muslims, Narrative, Palestine, World

Samia Khoury remembers terrorism in the Holy Land that occurred 70 years ago.

by Samia Khoury

On the 27th of July, I had to take my car to be serviced at the Chevrolet garage in Talpiot on West Jerusalem. On my way back, my cousin drove me through areas that were so familiar to me in West Jerusalem when we were living there before 1948.

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Why is ‘Palestine’ missing from Google’s Middle East map?

Posted on Aug 13, 2016 in Israel, Palestine, World

The word “Palestine” does not appear on Google’s map of the area.

By Teresa Welsh, twelsh@mcclatchy.com

The internet is accusing Google of “erasing” or “deleting” Palestine off its maps, removing reference to the disputed territory which Israel claims as its own.

As with all things Middle East, passions run high on both sides of the issue: Those who say the land belongs to Israel as a Jewish state, and those who say the land is rightfully Palestinian and is being occupied by Israelis.

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2016: Humanitarian Revolution

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, NGO, Syria, World

The refugee crisis demands better aid, not just more aid.

GETTING TO CLASS. Afghan children arrive at a school near a refugee camp near Kabul.

by David Miliband in America Magazine, the National Catholic Review

Every day in my work at the International Rescue Committee, I hear stories and see evidence of how vulnerable people in desperate straits around the world are not getting the help they need. The scale and complexity of current humanitarian needs are increasingly out of step with the resources, policies and practices available to meet them.

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Jewish Voice for Peace: Call to action on Susiya

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jews, Justice, NGO, Palestine, Peace, World

160318 JVP horizontallogo

Ashley Bohrer Jewish Voice for Peace & the Center for Jewish Nonviolence

August 9, 2016 – This morning I woke up to the terrible news that 27 people were made homeless for the second time when Israeli bulldozers demolished five structures in the South Hebron Hills village of Umm al Kheir. When I was there last month, a group of international Jewish activists and I helped rebuild a house demolished there in April. Now we need you to raise your voice to help prevent even more demolitions.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only village facing immediate demolition now. You may have heard about the village of Susiya previously: the village has been facing nearly constant demolitions in recent years, as well as settler harassment, crop destruction, and direct violence from Israeli soldiers.

You can make a difference , but you must act now.

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2016: United States announces additional US$ 51.6 million to support Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Human rights, Jordan, Lebanon, NGO, Palestine, Syria, World

The United States announced today a new contribution of nearly US$ 52 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to the Agency’s 2016 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory. The US Consul-General, Donald Blome, and UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, Sandra Mitchell, made the joint announcement during a ceremony in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

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2016: The story of a Holocaust survivor who encountered Pope Francis

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, World

Pope meets with Holocaust survivor

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2015: Migrants and Refugees in Israel

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Israel, World

How does a person who leaves his land, his culture, his parents and all his family react to this new reality?

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2016: Malteser International on “desperate” situation for Aleppo’s hospitals

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, NGO, Syria, World

A nurse taking care of babies inside children’s hospital in Aleppo. – REUTERS

(Vatican Radio) August 11, 2016 – As the fight intensified for control of the Syrian city of Aleppo, local doctors and humanitarian workers speak of a worsening of the already dire conditions facing medical facilities operating in the contested city. Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Order of Malta and it supports the only children’s hospital located in the rebel-held eastern side of Aleppo. Janine Lietmeyer is Malteser International’s Middle East Manager and she says the situation in their hospital and other medical facilities in Aleppo is “really, really desperate.”  She was interviewed by Susy Hodges and told her how the doctors and medical workers at the children’s hospital are continuing their vital work of caring for premature babies as well as sick and wounded children despite the huge threats to their personal safety. 

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2016: A Cry for Help From Carmelite Nuns in Aleppo

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Middle East, Syria, Vatican, World

“By now it is only the poorest of the people who are still left here”

ACN photo

“The situation is a complicated and we are hearing many contradictory stories. The only truth we do know is that the people here are suffering and dying.”

The words are those of Sister Anne-Françoise, a French religious of the Enclosed and Apostolic Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Aleppo, Syria. She spoke by telephone with international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need about the agony of Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, where fighting between the Syrian government and rebel forces has greatly intensified in recent weeks.

The convent of these nuns is on the outskirts of Aleppo, an area seriously affected by the fighting. The nun reported: “When the Syrian army attempts to prevent the opposition and other groups from entering into the city, the bombing and shelling come really close to us. Thanks be to God, they haven’t hit us yet, but we are constantly hearing the shells pass over our heads.”

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2016: Bishop of Aleppo on “destroyed country and families” in his homeland

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, NGO, World

Civilians in Aleppo survey damage following rocket attacks. – AFP

(Vatican Radio) August 10, 2016 – As the United Nations called for an urgent humanitarian pause to the fighting raging in the divided city of Aleppo where two million people lack access to clean water and electricity, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo speaks about his “destroyed country and the destroyed families” in Syria.

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2014: If Syria does not warm hearts

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Christians, Human rights, NGO, Syria, Vatican

Published on Jan 11, 2014

About the video: Alaa Al-Masri is a Palestinian child who is in a critical condition because of dehydration and malnutrition that caused her a kidney failure as a result of the siege imposed on the Palestinian people in Al-Yarmouk camp in Damascus by Assad’s gangs , and regime’s checkpoints not allowing the girl to leave for treatment. Her family is appealing to the international commissions, Red Cross and Red Crescent to let this girl get out of the camp because her health is deteriorating.

In Syria more than 1,5 million people are under siege in the south of Damascus , its countryside, the two Ghouts and Homs. They are completely isolated from the rest of the world without food, power or any heat devices. We call on the human rights organization to intervene to stop the famine that threatens thousands of families and children.

(Vatican Insider) The whole world has seen the picture of little Israa al-Masri whose enormous eyes had already lost any sign of life before she starved to death in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus. Even the snapshot of the endless bread line taken a few weeks later in the same camp was shown worldwide by international media. We wrote about it; we talked about it. But the tugging at heartstrings is short-lived. The tragedy turns everyone’s stomach but then it’s over. Because Syria doesn’t warm hearts.

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1946-present: Palestinian Refugee Camps

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Human rights, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Middle East, NGO, Palestine, Syria

Pope Francis meets children in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp during his 2014 visit to the Holy Land

Who are Palestine refugees?

Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.

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