Refugee who keeps the memory of Palestine alive

Palestinian refugees from Israel form a queue by the food tent in their camp in Amman. (Getty Images/file)
Updated 20 May 2018

Refugee who keeps the memory of Palestine alive

  • Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees of any country where UNWRA operates.
  • Constitutionally, Palestinians, whether living in refugee camps or not, have been granted full citizenship in Jordan.

AMMAN: Azzam Abu Malouh sits outside his humble store in a narrow alleyway inside Husn Palestinian refugee camp and talks about his lost homeland.

Malouh, who is in his 50s, recalls stories he heard from his father about their Palestinian homeland and the port of Jaffa, which they fled in 1948.

Husn Camp in Jordan, known widely as Martyr Azzam Al-Mufti camp, was established after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The camp, 80 kilometers north of the capital Amman, is home to refugees from the 1948 Nakba — when Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for Jewish settlers and the formation of Israel — and those displaced in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza.

The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which administers the needs of Palestinian refugees, says the camp houses 25,000 registered refugees.

Palestinian cause

Abu Malouh is involved in social and political activities in the camp, and does not miss a single anniversary or event linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

He represents the living Palestinian cause that has continued for three and four generations since the Nakba 70 years ago.

Nakba Day refers to May 15, 1948, and is remembered throughout the world as the “catastrophe” when Palestinians lost their homes and land. On Monday, dozens of protesters marking the Nakba were killed in clashes with Israeli forces on the Gaza border.

Last December, Abu Malouh and others in the camp decided to remind younger generations of their past. 

They began a campaign to paint Palestinian symbols on the walls of the camp. Artists and amateurs worked to give dilapidated buildings a facelift, and street names where changed to reflect Palestinian cities and towns. 

“So when you are in Husn camp and say I am going to Nablus, Gaza or Haifa, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to Palestine,” Abu Malouh told Arab News.

“We want the young people in this camp to know the names of Palestinian cities.”

Abu Malouh has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the politics of the Palestinian conflict.

“For us in this camp, our central cause is the right of return and the rejection of alternative plans, and attempts to erase the Palestinian cause,” he said. “Every child who walks our streets is reminded daily of their homeland Palestine.” 

Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees of any country where UNWRA operates.

The kingdom’s 10 official Palestinian refugee camps hold almost 370,000 people, or 18 percent of the country’s total.

Jordan citizenship

Constitutionally, Palestinians, whether living in refugee camps or not, have been granted full citizenship in Jordan. They are allowed to take part in political life, hold public service jobs and serve in the army. However, these privileges are not granted to the almost 140,000 Palestinians who arrived from Gaza. 

Outside the camps, Palestinians make up the core of the Jordanian professional class and the majority of business owners and wealthy family businesses. Names such as Nuqul, Salfiti, Shoman, Sayegh and Masri are among wealthy Jordanians of Palestinian origin.

Ahmad Ruqub, the Palestine committee reporter in the Jordanian House of Representatives, told Arab News that more support is needed for Palestinian refugee camps, whose inhabitants live in poverty with high levels of unemployment.

“Youth are without work and homes are overcrowded as UNRWA has lessened over the years their services,” he said. 

The camps were built as temporary sites in the belief that refugees would return to their homeland. But decades of overcrowding have taken a toll on the infrastructure. Streets have huge potholes, and sewage often spills into the streets, increasing the risk of disease. 

Palestinians look to the UN agency as more than just a humanitarian organization. They see it as a witness to the 1948 eviction of Palestinians and the refusal to allow their return.

US allocates $73m to UNRWA amid funding crisis

Updated 24 September 2023

US allocates $73m to UNRWA amid funding crisis

  • UNRWA requires between $170 and $190 million just to keep its services running until the end of the year

LONDON: US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced an additional $73 million in funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, Jordan Press Agency reported on Sunday. 

The ambassador said that the funding would help supply food to needy families, provide healthcare for children and pregnant women, assist students in furthering their education, and support people affected by the conflict through mental health services.

It will also provide emergency humanitarian assistance to residents of Jenin and Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camps, both of which have suffered from recent violence. 

Earlier on Thursday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said the funding crisis for Palestinian refugees in Jordan and other host countries has created an “absolutely unbearable” situation that could soon approach a tipping point. 

Lazzarini said that the agency required between $170 and $190 million just to keep its activities in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere running until the end of the year. 

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told the UNGA in New York on Tuesday that the world must not abandon Palestinian refugees to the forces of despair. 

“In Jordan, where refugees make up over a third of our 11 million population, cuts have already thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees into uncertainty. The impact of such humanitarian shortfalls is never limited to a country or region,” the king said.

Despite several UN member states pledging Thursday to boost their contributions to UNRWA, the agency still only has the means to provide services until October.

Kuwait, China sign 7 agreements for major construction work

Updated 24 September 2023

Kuwait, China sign 7 agreements for major construction work

  • Projects include completion of port, renewable energy, low-carbon recycling, water treatment schemes

LONDON: Kuwait and China have signed seven memorandums of understanding on large-scale construction projects, Kuwait News Agency reported on Sunday.

The agreements were signed during Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s visit to Hangzhou at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games.

It was the crown prince’s second meeting with Xi since the Gulf Cooperation Council-China Summit for Cooperation and Development in December in Saudi Arabia.

Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Saad Al-Barrak described the visit as “very important,” with the government working to update its 2035 vision.

The first agreement is for completion of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port.

“Around 50 percent of the first phase of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port is complete, and we seek to finalize the first phase in order to launch and operate the port as swiftly as possible,” Al-Barrak said.

“China excels in construction and other domains like management and operation of the port, so we have signed the MoU and will continue the talks on execution.”

Other agreements were signed for projects including renewable energy, creation of a low-carbon recycling green system, water treatment station infrastructure, and economic and free zones.

Jassem Al-Ostad, Kuwait’s minister of electricity, water and renewable energy, said the crown prince gave instructions to build renewable energy stations in order to supply clean and affordable energy, while also honoring Kuwait’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Another MoU outlines the development of advanced housing cities in Kuwait as part of the government plans to offer housing care for citizens.

During the visit, Sheikh Mishal and Xi discussed ways to expand bilateral relations.

Xi said that Kuwait was the first Gulf country to establish relations with Beijing in 1971, and that the Kuwait Fund was instrumental in providing loans to China in the 1980s.

The crown prince also met with Huawei executives to strengthen Kuwait’s partnership with the company in information technology and communication services.

UAE FM meets UN secretary general on sidelines of UNGA assembly

Updated 24 September 2023

UAE FM meets UN secretary general on sidelines of UNGA assembly

  • Discussions focused on partnerships in humanitarian aid, renewable energy, climate action

LONDON: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Emirates News Agency reported.

Discussions focused on UAE-UN partnerships in a variety of sectors, including humanitarian aid, renewable energy, climate action and sustainable development.

Sheikh Abdullah and Guterres reviewed the outcomes of the UAE’s membership of the UN Security Council from 2022 to 2023, as well as its contributions to international peace and security, and humanitarian response operations and initiatives aimed at tackling global challenges.

The meeting discussed the UAE’s preparations for hosting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November in Dubai.

Sheikh Abdullah said that the UAE recognized the need to expedite the global response to climate change to achieve peace and security, and that the country looked forward to leveraging climate challenges into opportunities that drove sustainable and economic development.

The two officials also addressed developments in the Middle East, exchanged views on a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest, as well as challenges to international peace and security.

Guterres thanked the UAE for its strengthened engagement with the UN and its hosting of COP28.

The meeting was attended by several UAE officials, including Reem bint Ibrahim Al-Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, permanent representative to the UN, Mohamed Issa Abu Shehab, deputy permanent representative to the UN, and Majid Al Suwaidi, special representative of COP28.


All 120 workers rescued after Nile cruise ship accident in Egypt

Nile cruise ships and feluccas are moored off the river bank of Egypt’s southern city of Luxor. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 September 2023

All 120 workers rescued after Nile cruise ship accident in Egypt

  • There were no guests on board the ship, which was heading to Luxor Governorate in the south of Egypt

CAIRO: All 120 workers on board a Nile cruise ship that partially sank after it collided with a bridge have been rescued. 

The collision caused a hole in the lower right side of the Tivoli Nile ship in Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt, officials said.

There were no guests on board the ship, which was heading to Luxor Governorate in the south of Egypt.

The Public Prosecution is investigating the incident.

Authorities said they were working with the company that owns the floating hotel, while Mohammed Amer, head of the Department of Hotel Establishments, Shops, and Tourist Activities at the ministry, said the ship’s tourism operating license expired last May and had not been renewed.

It was recently at a workshop in Helwan, south of Cairo, for necessary repairs and maintenance work to allow it to operate during the upcoming winter season, starting next month.

Amer said that, after completing all maintenance work, the management of the vessel obtained a passage permit from Cairo to Luxor for the necessary inspections by Ministry of Tourism officials to renew its license in preparation for the start of October.

The River Transport Authority said that it granted a temporary permit for the ship to leave the repair shop to its own berth on Aug. 23 until it obtained the rest of the necessary licenses from the other relevant authorities.

Jordan, UK delegations review bilateral cooperation

Updated 24 September 2023

Jordan, UK delegations review bilateral cooperation

  • Jordanian MPs advocated for increasing British investment in Jordan, medical tourism promotion

LONDON: The Jordanian-British Parliamentary Friendship Association met a UK delegation of Conservative MPs on Sunday in Amman to discuss opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, Jordan News Agency reported.

Dina Bashir, the association’s president, emphasized the strength of Jordanian-British relations, which she attributed to the country’s respective leaderships.

Bashir underscored Jordan’s commitment to political, economic and administrative modernization under the leadership of King Abdullah II, with the goal of improving Jordanians’ lives in a range of sectors.

Bashir expressed Jordan’s position on the Palestinian cause while applauding the king’s efforts to resolve the conflict on local, regional and international levels. She also emphasized the importance of Jordanian custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem in sustaining the historical coexistence of Muslims and Christians.

Highlighting Jordan’s long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees, Bashir noted the influx of Syrian refugees and its impact on the host country’s infrastructure. She urged the international community to fulfill its responsibilities toward Jordan so it could continue to play its humanitarian role.

Bashir campaigned for the expansion and marketing of Jordanian products in the UK, as well as boosting economic and tourism collaboration.

Several Jordanian MPs also advocated for increasing British investment in Jordan, medical tourism promotion, and British tourists visiting the country.

The UK delegation highlighted the need to strengthen bilateral ties in the economic, commercial, agricultural and tourism sectors. They also acknowledged Jordan’s critical role in the refugee crisis as well as its efforts to ensure regional security and stability.