What would you do if you were living in a refugee camp during a global pandemic?
The Dheisheh refugee camp is one of nineteen Palestinian refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, and is the largest of three refugee camps in the city of Bethlehem. It’s home to 13,000 refugees, living in an area of less than half a square kilometer.
Since June, Palestinians in the West Bank, including the residents of Dheisheh camp, have been fighting a second wave of the Corona-virus pandemic that’s spreading like wildfire through the occupied territory.
For the first time in months, Palestinian refugee camps are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases raising concerns over the potentially devastating effects the virus can have on disadvantaged communities Dheisheh camp.
Most refugee camps like Dheisheh are home to three, even four generations of Palestinian refugee families. With so many people living in such a small space, overcrowding has become a major issue for Palestinian refugees during COVID-19.
Most of the houses in the camp are infected with the virus because of how close the houses are to each other. Many families are scared to even open their windows over fears that the virus could spread that way.
In many Palestinian refugee camps the existing infrastructure has remained unchanged for years, unable to keep up with the rapidly growing population.
In most homes, you can find anywhere between ten to sixteen people living in the same apartment, which has made it impossible for people to properly self-quarantine if they fear they may have the virus.
On top of problems with infrastructure and social distancing camps are suffering from severe lack of emergency funding services during COVID-19.
The UNRWA is the UN agency responsible for administering Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East.
But UNRWA has been suffering a major financial crisis for years, forcing the agency to slash essential services like healthcare and cash-for-work programs.
During the pandemic, the need for humanitarian aid in these communities has increased tenfold, as thousands of people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 lock downs.
But residents of these camps say that they have received little to no services from the Palestinian government, or from agencies like UNRWA.
As the summer comes to a close, families in the camp are now being faced with the reality that they may have to send their kids back to school as early as next month.
And with most families living below the poverty line, online schooling at home is out of the question.
We can’t afford to buy a laptop or a computer, or any of these kinds of technologies that are really expensive, especially during this time.
During the time of Corona-virus, it has been really difficult for everyone.
Mondoweiss / ABC Flash Point News 2020.