Friday, September 08, 2006

Children of the camps








These images were all shot in refugee camps. The one in the middle of the boy on his bike was taken in Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, all the rest were taken in Balata refugee camp near Nablus. I was lucky enough to be shown round Balata by the Chicago based photographer Matt Cassel which really helped in terms of access. In the camp there are around 22,000 people crammed in to a space not much bigger than a square kilometre, and it is the largest camp in the West Bank. Israel considers it the centre of terror activity, and thus the military presence in the surrounding hills is strong. Their incursions into the camp are very regular and therefore armed Palestinian fighters patrol the streets and there is some suspicion of foreigners. On the night we stayed there shooting broke out in the camp and further away at a checkpoint, there were casulties on both sides including the occupants of taxi who were shot by nervous IDF troops as they tried to find a route around a checkpoint. Once the people are comfortable with your presence their hospitality is as warm as anywhere else in the West Bank. The plight and nature of the struggle in this camp and in Nablus itself certainly deserves more attention.

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