Photo essay: Continually displaced, Palestinian refugees spend Nakba day in Iraqi IDP camp

Middle East
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Baharka IDP camp, Iraq, holds over 1,000 displaced Iraqi families. However in one small section, 18 Palestinian refugee families currently reside. Their displacement began 67 years ago with the Nakba, and has continued to 2015 – all the families have fled from ISIS within the last year. For some of the older Palestinian refugees this is their fifth refugee camp in their lifetime, for the younger generation it is their first. For all however, the plight of being a Palestinian refugee doesn’t appear to have an end in sight.

Baharka camp is Hudda Awad's fifth refugee camp in her lifetime. After contracting cancer and now struggling to pay for the treatment - she believes it will be her last. The misfortune that has plighted her life since her parents fled the Nakba doesn't surprise her anymore. "We, the Palestinians, are professional refugees," Awad told Mondoweiss. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Baharka camp is Hudda Awad’s fifth refugee camp in her lifetime. After contracting cancer and now struggling to pay for the treatment – she believes it will be her last. The misfortune that has plighted her life since her parents fled the Nakba doesn’t surprise her anymore. “We, the Palestinians, are professional refugees,” Awad told Mondoweiss. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Awad's son crouches down beside a plot of land he has been cultivating in the camp. The Awad family has been growing Molkhiyah, popular in Palestinian dishes, but uncommon in Iraq. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Awad’s son crouches down beside a plot of land he has been cultivating in the camp. The Awad family has been growing Molkhiyah, popular in Palestinian dishes, but uncommon in Iraq. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

The Awad family stands outside, Haya the newest member is only six months old. Haya was born at Baharka. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

The Awad family stands outside, Haya the newest member is only six months old. Haya was born at Baharka. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

A small Palestine scarf adorns the plastic wall of one of the tents at Baharka Camp. Talk of Palestine is frequent, and on Nakba day many of the Palestinian refugees at Baharka will reflect back on the similarities between their current hardship and the hardship of their parents and grandparents when they first fled violence in 1948. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

A small Palestine scarf adorns the plastic wall of one of the tents at Baharka Camp. Talk of Palestine is frequent, and on Nakba day many of the Palestinian refugees at Baharka will reflect back on the similarities between their current hardship and the hardship of their parents and grandparents when they first fled violence in 1948. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Ibrahim al-Fahmawry is the only individual from the 18 Palestinian refugee families at Baharka who was alive when the Nakba happened. He was just seven years old. al-Fahmawry speaks with purpose and passion about Palestine, "My country, my country," he sings when Mondoweiss asks him about Palestine. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Ibrahim al-Fahmawry is the only individual from the 18 Palestinian refugee families at Baharka who was alive when the Nakba happened. He was just seven years old. al-Fahmawry speaks with purpose and passion about Palestine, “My country, my country,” he sings when Mondoweiss asks him about Palestine. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Khadra Ibrahim holds up her refugee documents. Ibrahim was born in Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp in Syria several years after the Nakba. Baharka is her fourth refugee camp. "All the Palestinian here are tired," she says. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Khadra Ibrahim holds up her refugee documents. Ibrahim was born in Khan al-Sheikh refugee camp in Syria several years after the Nakba. Baharka is her fourth refugee camp. “All the Palestinian here are tired,” she says. (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Ahmad Adiyab says being a Palestinian refugee in Iraq has been a curse. The Palestinian families at Bahaka are all one big family he says - everyone looks out for each other. But Adiyab says he doesn't want to have children - "I don't want them to have the same life I have had." (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Ahmad Adiyab says being a Palestinian refugee in Iraq has been a curse. The Palestinian families at Bahaka are all one big family he says – everyone looks out for each other. But Adiyab says he doesn’t want to have children – “I don’t want them to have the same life I have had.” (Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

About Abed Al Qaisi

Abed Al Qaisi is a freelance multimedia journalist covering conflict in the Middle East and Europe. Abed has done work for Al Jazeera English, USA Today, Vice News and more.

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2 Responses

  1. just
    May 15, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Thank you, Abed. Your pictures are powerful.

    Israel is responsible, but Israel doesn’t take any responsibility for any Palestinian refugees who have the right to return to their own land. And it seems that many do not care to hold them accountable. I pray that changes, soon.

    “Palestinian refugees present one of the largest and most protracted cases of displacement in the world. Most Palestinian refugees were displaced in 1947–1949, when the state of Israel established itself by means of military force on the land of Arab towns and villages. However, many other waves of displacement have occurred since, for example during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Palestinians continue to be displaced, both within and from the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem), and within and from the state of Israel itself.

    The majority of Palestinian refugees live in Arab countries adjacent to Israel (i.e., Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). Many have suffered several displacements, and most of them lack adequate protection of their human rights.

    Prolonged exile under dire circumstances and repeated conflict in the Middle East have caused some Palestinian refugees to move on to countries outside the Middle East, including Europe and North America, in order to seek protection in states signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and/or the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.”

    – See more at: http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/palestinians-who-fall-under-1951-convention#sthash.yK1skphx.dpuf

    Actually, Israel is/has always acted reprehensibly wrt refugees of all origin. They don’t treat Ethiopian Jews that they lured there well. The refugees who come from Africa seeking asylum are treated abominably, despite Israel being a party to the Refugee Convention.
    Today’s Washington Post has this article on the front page:

    “Israeli government to refugees: Go back to Africa or go to prison”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/toughening-its-stance-toward-migrants-israel-pushes-africans-to-leave/2015/05/14/e1637bce-f350-11e4-bca5-21b51bbdf93e_story.html?hpid=z1

  2. Blake
    May 15, 2015, 5:38 pm

    From “Against Our Better Judgment” by Alison Weir:
    “the total direct relief offered…by the Israeli government to date consists of 500 cases of oranges “(ironic when you consider they were stolen from Palestinians anyway).

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