Tuesday, 12 October 2010
The long road to Gaza Palestinians in Latakia, Syria
1948: Palestinians uprooted from their homes by the Nakba (Catastrophe). Unleashed by Zionist terror gangs and continued by the new state of Israel, the Nakba forced into exile over 80% of Palestinians living in the territory that became Israel. They become refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, banned by Israeli laws from returning to their homeland. 62 years later, their descendents live in hope of returning to the place they call Palestine.
Today, 400,000 people descended from Palestinians fleeing the Nakba find refuge in Syria, whose total population is 22 million.Many now live in Latakia, Syria’s main port. The Palestinian Quarter of Latakia is near the former refugee camp that has become a temporary village for the Gaza aid convoy. Built around a complicated maze of narrow alleys are rough-looking four and five story buildings housing the refugees. “It all seems on a tilt,” observes Kiwi volunteer Chris van Ryn.
Homemade vehicles parked alongside Palestinian dwellings in Latakia provide evidence of the general poverty afflicting these refugees from the Nakba. Houses and shops display a map of Palestine, reminding refugee children of their national identity. “I was talking with Muhammed, a 60-year-old man who was born in a refugee camp and has never seen Palestine, his family’s homeland,” recalls Kiwi volunteer Mousa Taher. “He loves his country which he’s never seen. Muhammed told me that Palestine was a rich country, and he wishes for nothing more than to live on her fertile land.”
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