The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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August 15, 2011

Daily Star - Abbas visit raises frustration in Ain al-Hilweh, August 15, 2011

SIDON: For residents of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, the upcoming visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is stirring up feelings of apathy and frustration.
Mona Hasan, a young Palestinian activist, said that one visit by the Palestinian leader wouldn’t be enough to solve the Palestinians’ crisis.
“Addressing our livelihood, social and national crisis and reaching a stage where Palestinians in Lebanon are treated as human beings needs one hundred visits, along with serious decisions,” she said.
An elderly camp resident agreed with Hasan’s expectation for Abbas’ visit Tuesday.
“It will not make a significant change,” he said.
Palestinian refugee Mahmoud Oweidat, compared late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Abbas’ commitment to refugees in Palestinian camps.
“Abu Ammar [Arafat] had preserved the refugees’ right of return as a national principle, but for Abu Mazen [Abbas], this right might be up for compromise,” he explained.
Many of the camp’s residents were not aware of the president’s upcoming visit, but those who were planning to meet Abbas were eager to discuss the deteriorating security situation, as well as the relentless economic concerns of camp residents.
Earlier this month, armed clashes had erupted between members of Fatah Movement and the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam group, wounding six people and causing extensive damage in the impoverished camp, which is the largest in Lebanon and lies on the outskirts of the southern coastal city of Sidon.
Should Abu Youssef Hamade get a chance to meet Abbas during his visit, he would urge him to work on stopping rival groups from competing for influence in the camp.
“I will tell my brother Abu Mazen, it is not good that Palestinians clash every now and then in the camp and people die,” he said. “Resolve this dispute; the oppression and hunger we suffer are enough!”
Some Palestinian political and human rights activists will try to make use of Abbas’ visit to send him a letter urging him to “pressure the Lebanese government to lift injustice and oppression on refugees and to refrain from racist practices against them.”
If he ever meets the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Qaddoura will kiss him, then blame him for “abandoning refugees.”
“I will tell him, you do not know how to handle matters. Why are you abandoning the refugees? I want to live the rest of my life and die in the [Palestinian village of] Ikrima,” said Qaddoura. “It is not your right to … cross out the right of return. You are responsible for the refugees and you have to assume this responsibility.”
For Um Samer, the situation of Palestinians in Lebanon is “bad,” just like the tomatoes she was picking up from the vegetable market for her daily Ramadan fattoush salad.
“The situation of the camps is miserable. Wake up! We are not eating and there is no medical care,” she said. “We want to educate our children and we want you to stop the shooting inside the camp.”
But an elderly member of Fatah’s Palestinian Armed Struggle said that the meeting with the Palestinian leader, which he was planning to attend, would be “a very good opportunity for presenting pressing concerns and the developments of the [Palestinian] cause.”
“I will tell him … we, the people of the revolution, want our salaries,” he said. “We are paid for one month and then get nothing.”

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