I made a visit to Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp, Jericho, West Bank. It is one of the sixty camps in Palestine and this camp holds over 6400 refugees. The sign says 'This project is a gift from the American people to the people of Palestine' Somehow I don't think the American Government was involved in it as it supports Israel and not Palestine!
A few days ago, I cycled the 3km south from the hostel, Auberg-Inn http://auberginn.ps/jericho/, to a refugee camp, Aqbat Jaber, on the outskirts of Jericho, eastern West Bank. With me was a Dutch girl who works in a refugee camp back in her home country. Here, the inhabitants first came to the camp from central Palestine after there homes were destroyed by the Israeli's in 1948. More arrived in the six day war in 1967 and today Palestinians are still arriving as homes continue to be bulldozed by the Israeli Government.
Walking around the camp and you could see that in some areas it was run down. The smell was very intense and you had to cover your nose. What it did remind me of was being back in Peru and Nepal. Litter everywhere, buildings empty or in some cases, burnt down, very dirty and that smell that you just couldn't get away from. Homes were in the process of being built. Outside the camp, the Palestine that I've observed so far has been in good shape. In fact, this camp is what I and others that I've spoken to who are visiting the country, were expecting the West Bank to look like.
We visited the only hostel inside and spoke to the owner about the camp as he's been there all his life. As we already knew the reason why the Palestinians were still turning up and that's because their homes are being flattered to make way for Israeli settlements. I asked 'If the camp is being run by the UN, to stop the refugees continuing to arrive here or any other camp in the first place, then why wont the UN intervene and demand that the Israeli Government to stop breaking international law by bulldozing 1000's of homes? He totally agreed with me and told us that the UN is corrupt! We both knew that the UN was corrupt already.
Water is a scarce here and creates a major problem in this desert area. The Israeli's take advantage of this problem and it is now the main supplier of water as well as electricity to the camp. The unemployment rate is 28% and is affected by the unacceptability of the Israeli labour market. Residents of the camp, work in agriculture land in the Jorden Valley or in the many increasing Israeli settlements.
The hostel is on the left
For a population of 6400 refugees, the camp only has two schools and centres include, one food distribution, one women's program, three health, one children's and one community-based rehabilitation centre. All photos above were taken by Marieke Smit
The day before we visited the Monastery of Temptation which is located in a cliff face over looking Jericho and the Jorden Valley just up road from the hostel. It was built in the 6th century, CE above the cave apparently jesus hung out for forty days and nights.
A Greek monk over looking Jericho from the monastery.
If you do visit Jericho then I recommend this hostel, Auberg-Inn http://auberginn.ps/jericho/
And this is the view from Area D Hostel where I stayed in Ramallah http://ramallahhostel.com/about-us/ Both hostels were clean, very welcome and friendly
This very obliging Blackstart was below the monastery
Up to 8 Tristrams's Starling were also in the area and saw larger flocks later on
Red-vained Darter were all over the shop by the hostel
This Spur-winged Plover was next to the refugee camp
Southern Grey Shrike
Hoopoe in the hostel garden
What is the chances of this happening!? The first song that came on my random of over 3000 songs on my spotify when I first got to Jericho was the great Joe Strummer, 'Get down Moses' where he says in the song 'The gates of Jericho!'