Lebanon refugees talk to Al Jazeera

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon speak of their hardships after three-days of violence.


    As many as 10,000 Palestinians have fled  to the
    nearby al-Baddawi refugee camp [AFP] 

    Thousands of Palestinian refugees continue to flee Nahr al-Bared refugee camp after three days of clashes between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam. More than 80 people have died in what has been described as Lebanon’s worst case of internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war.


    Al Jazeera spoke to Palestinians from the embattled refugee camp about the clashes they have endured and the destruction they are slowly coming to terms with.


    Murtaja El-Hajj, 38,  UNRWA sanitation officer 


    "This is a repeat of the 1948 Palestinian Nakbha, when the state of Israel was created," el-Hajj said.


    El-Hajj was born at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and now lives there with his wife and children.

    He said he refuses to leave his home because he has nowhere else to go.


    Inside Nahr al-Bared


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    "As long as my family is OK I will stay put," he said, speaking from his ground floor apartment, surrounded by his wife and children, brothers and neighbours.

    About 50,000 refugees live in the camp and as many as 10,000 Palestinians have fled to the nearby Beddawi refugee camp.


    Others have travelled to Tripoli, and many have gone to stay with their families in neighbouring towns.


    El-Hajj said a "tranquil calm" loomed over the refugee camp after sporadic fire dominated the early hours of Wednesday morning.


    With no drinking water, infant milk, electricity or running water, residents of the camp are suffering.


    "Medical supplies are scarce. The few clinics in the refugee camp are functioning with no anaesthetic as we speak," el-Hajj said.


    Scent of death


    "The smell of dead corpses is overwhelming," he told Al Jazeera.


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    "This has been a grave massacre. There are dead people collapsed under rubble and we have no way of getting them out."


    Mosques, schools and clinics have been destroyed. Even the graveyard was shelled, exposing once-buried human bones.


    El-Hajj said that UNRWA aid trucks were bombed yesterday and an electric generator provided by relief agencies to generate water supplies has been destroyed.


    "We are not against the Lebanese army, but why should we, as civilians, suffer? We want the world to see what's happening to us," he said.


    Fadwa Sanadaqa, 23, university student


    Sanadaqa evacuated Nahr al-Bared refugee camp on Tuesday evening along with her brother, Ahmad, also a university student.


    "We got into a pick-up truck with our neighbours, we covered ourselves in a blanket and held out a white flag, to keep the snipers away," she said.


    Speaking to Al Jazeera, from her new whereabouts in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, she described the fear she encountered in the past three days.


    Fatah al-Islam snipers had taken over the roofs of many of the houses in the camp.


    "They would aim at the Lebanese army from our roofs and above our garages so that the army fire back at us and they did," she said.


    People in the camp are starving and the aid is not reaching everyone, Sanadaqa said.


    She hopes things will get better so that she can go back to the camp and just check up on her grandfather's house where, she was staying with her brother.


    But she will never go back to live there, even if it "becomes safe to go back".


    Faisal Ashkar, Nahr al-Bared refugee camp


    Ashkar who has also been witness to the past three days of violence, spoke to Al Jazeera on Wednesday.


    He left Nahr al-Bared refugee camp on foot last night and made his way to the neighbouring Beddawi refugee camp.


    We do not need food or water, who needs that when their house has been destroyed?

    He condemned the Palestinian authorities for not caring enough and not portraying to the outside world just how much the Palestinians are suffering.


    "The Palestinian authority has not given honest statements of the last few days of violence," he said.


    "We do not need food or water, who needs that when their house has been destroyed?"


    Ashkar has been unable to reach his family members as most communication has been lost.


    He described the state of the camp to be in "total destruction" when he left.


    Communication with Ashkar was lost, as his mobile phone battery ran out, and Al Jazeera was unable to complete the interview.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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