Living with dignity does not only mean that you have your daily food, a house to live in, or even a paved street... Dignity includes more than that and expands as the concerns of Palestinian refugees expand with it in various parts of the world.
In the twenty-first century, the Palestinian refugee is still suffering in order to obtain his right to receive knowledge, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that education is a right for all, and it does not give the possibility for anyone to be deprived of it, whatever the pretext. Also, securing a place to practice this right is recognized by all peoples in the world.
But this year is more challenging for the Palestinian refugees... Lebanon is witnessing a severe economic crisis that affected the situation of the Palestinian, as in the case of the Lebanese people... The Palestinian has become unable to move around as before, due to the high prices of fuel and the deteriorating living conditions.
As for the situation of Palestinian refugee students in Burj al-Shamali camp, their right to learn is greatly violated, and this reality bears the responsibility of the UNRWA, which deliberately ignores the demands of the students’ families, who constantly call for the creation of secondary school classes within the two schools in the camp… The Palestinian factions who have failed to play their role in helping and supporting the people in their demands bear the responsibility for this failure, which has exacerbated the problem, and consequently led to the exacerbation of their suffering.
Perhaps talking about this crisis continues throughout the scholastic year. The living situation is getting worse in general, and the Palestinian refugee is affected by these conditions in particular, especially those living inside the Palestinian camps.
Secondary school students living in Burj al-Shamali camp suffer from major crises affecting their educational path, due to the absence of a secondary school in which they receive education. Forcing them to enroll in secondary schools outside the camp, their attendance requires large sums of money to be paid instead of transportation, which imposes more burdens and financial costs on the parents.
Parents and students’ demand to create secondary classes inside the camp are not new... These demands are old, and they consider these demands to be their right, and they renew their adherence to them at the beginning of each new academic year.
With the beginning of the current scholastic year, the parents carried out a number of protests to demand the right of their children to learn, and to create secondary classes for them inside the camp, which they considered would ease their burdens and protect their children's educational path.
These protest movements come at a time when the refugees are suffering from the deteriorating living conditions among their ranks, as a result of the deteriorating economic conditions in Lebanon in general... the cost of transportation exceeded 200,000 Lebanese Lira for every 10 working days only... and the cost ceiling is not fixed, and may even rise with the rise of the US dollar.
Also, the families affirmed that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees "UNRWA" bears the responsibility to pay the dues instead of transporting the students outside the camp, or to pledge to build a secondary school for them inside the camp... But with the continuous protest movements, people have been convinced that these promises made by UNRWA are nothing but like the steam in boiling water they disappear by time.
The matter was not limited to UNRWA's promises, but the Education Committee of the People's Committees transgressed at the beginning of the scholastic year to follow up on this file... But nothing has changed so far, but the suffering of students and families has worsened.
And the matter was not only limited to the suffering of the parents and students, but also exceeded that to the bus owners who appealed to the concerned authorities inside the camp to follow up their case due to the agency’s failure to pay them their required dues instead of delivering high school students inside the Burj al-Shamali camp, which exacerbated their suffering, and led them to threaten by escalating protest movements to extract their rights.
And the protest of the bus owners occurred because they did not receive their full financial dues for the month of October as an allowance for the delivery of students, and the payment was limited to a few students.
In addition to their suffering because they did not receive their dues for the months of December and January... note that the price of fuel is high and varies according to the exchange rate of the US dollar... Therefore, bus drivers stepped up their movements and went to the concerned authorities from the UNRWA administration, the popular committees and the families in order to complete their dues...
Inside the Burj al-Shamali camp, there are four schools affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which are: Palestine, Sarafand, Jabalia, and Bethlehem. Sarafand and Jabalia schools are located in the school district inside the camp, while Palestine and Bethlehem schools are located in the vicinity of the camp in the town of Burj Al-Shamali.
Although these schools have good quality of construction and some modern means, the problems lie in health facilities and drinking water that are not subject to hygiene conditions despite the moderate numbers of students inside these schools... They are not overcrowded, and the number of their attendees is somewhat acceptable.
As for returning to the level of education in these schools, it is below the required standard, and does not meet the aspirations of students who do not receive education according to the modern developed curricula... which leads many UNRWA school students to register specifically with a teacher to receive private lessons. Perhaps what drives the parents to such a measure is their lack of confidence in the education provided within the UNRWA teacher.
As for the number of university education recipients, it is small, due to the high economic burden on the parents. In addition, the absence of UNRWA’s role in dealing with students in one way, as the grants are distributed according to the means... Therefore, many of the camp’s residents tend to receive university education in specializations they do not want just to obtain an educational certificate, and most of them are in the social sciences sector.
It is noteworthy that the residents of Burj Al-Shamali camp, most of them work as day laborers in the agricultural and architectural sectors at low wages, which has exacerbated their suffering, especially in light of the high prices of goods and services in Lebanon. Perhaps one of the most difficult conditions they suffer from is the widespread of thalassemia among children inside the camp.