Final report from Sumud, Ain el Hilweh, LebanonThis is the third report that was meant to be sent on our last evening in the refugee camp; unfortunately this was not possible due to the lack of time and the usual problems with the electricity.
Thursday, September 3rd – 11.00 PM, Refugee Camp of 'Ein el-Hilweh
This is our last evening here, we only have two hours left in the camp and then we will have to leave to the airport in Beirut to take the plane which will carry us to Budapest and then back to Italy, Austria, Germany and England.
The opening of the building just finished, we spent the whole day organizing it and we think it went really well, we had a picture slideshow, some music, Dabka dancers and an “Italian” buffet (which was cooked by three of our volunteers). The small party was attended by personalities of the camp and a few journalists.
What happened in the last days: the renovation works were completed, they still need some small touching up but we can say they are 95% complete. We have repaired and painted the outside walls in cream white, had the canopy built on the yard, fixed the doors and painted them red, and fixed a sign on the front of the building which reads, “Sumud Youth Center” and the names of the two associations (Nashet and Sumud) and looks really nice on the renovated walls.
While we were working we noticed a growing interest in our activities, with some PFLP-area politicians and also some neighbours coming in to see how the renovation was going.
Our other activities: we had meetings with representatives of most of the political groups in the camp: a special one with PFLP, which also owns the building we renovated, in which we thanked them for the hospitality and for giving us the chance to implement our project; then with representatives of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and with the coordinator of Islamic parties.
We also had one day's trip to the south, where we visited the el-Khian prison, built in 1988 by the Israeli occupiers, taken back by the Resistance in 2000 and changed into a museum, and then bombed by Israeli planes in 2006 – to hide the proof of their crimes, we have been told, and indeed we have seen the cells where the prisoners were held in inhuman conditions and the instruments of torture used by the Israeli. We also visited the ruins of the Beaufort crusader castle, used by Israeli soldiers during the occupation and theatre of important clashes between the occupiers and the Resistance (in particular the Palestinian one).
On our last day we had a short formal meeting with a representative of the municipality of Saida.
Unfortunately despite our repeated attempts we did not manage to get the permission to enter Nahr el Bared camp.