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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Message from Lebanon 3
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¬†Pax Christi volunteer Roula is a university student in London. She went to Beirut to attend a family wedding and was due to return here on the 24th of July. She is now stranded in the Lebanon. 19th July 2006 Good morning Pat, I hope all are well. Greetings from my family, we are still safe and things are OK. I think with time we get used to bombardment and fear. Bombing was less yesterday; at least I can say so about the areas around Sidon. But it is getting more brutal. It is expanding geographically. More and more back-roads are being bombed. Israeli army is directly targeting residential buildings killing and injuring many civilians. Today's early morning bombing destroyed a four story residential building in the area of Ghazieh about 10 minutes drive from our house. The airline I booked with, gave me a replacement ticket on 24 July dawn time from Damascus. This would have been fine on Wednesday through few roads (although not too safe). But yesterday noon the Israeli army bombed the last road I know out of to Syria in the Bekaa area of Zahleh. This is in the inner northern side of the country. It is very risky to go to Syria in the current situation. In such situations one cannot be positive and trust a driver who is asking for $200US dollars (about £100) if not more for a trip that used to cost $10 only. True they are risking their lives, but those people who are going to Syria are not travelling for tourism, they are running away. I don't mind paying if there is some kind of guarantee, but there is not. Usually there are specialized companies that take people by cars or buses, but with the war these companies are not operating, so it is individual drivers who are working. This morning I was supposed to go to Beirut with my parents. Dad needs to collect a cheque for him and other employees at the project he is working on, and I need to get to the airline office to try to postpone the ticket further in hope that things will get better in time. At 4am this morning there was heavy bombing, and so Mum refused that I go with them fearing they might be shelled. So they took the details of my flight to check with the airline office in Beirut (everything apart from food shops is closed in Sidon). So depending on whether the roads they planned to take are not affected by today's early bombing (news are not instant and not always accurate) they will try to get there. The UK embassy replied to me saying they cannot take me unless I have a British passport. Not that it is totally unexpected, but looking at the numbers of people who have British passports with no real connection with Britain makes me really disappointed. If they are worried about me applying for asylum I believe this is not allowed because I have residency already though student residency. Humanity and honest conscience is fading in the world, in each country and community on a different level. Israel hits civilians running away from their destroyed villages, the French battalion under the UN flag in south Lebanon refuses to provide shelter to around 25 innocent civilians, Hezbollah takes a whole country into turmoil for God knows what interests, and so on... I am only welcome to enter the UK to spend about £17000 every year in education and living expenses, with no realistic right to work, and no rights outside the borders. I wish to know what harm I would cause if the British embassy adds one more person to its evacuees. There is no other country that I am related to or feel I belong to and have a physical material connection with. I am a Palestinian who has never been to Palestine because I am not allowed to, I am born in a country that has a mission of rejecting me, I am a stateless person, a citizen in no where. In the e-mail I explained that it is too dangerous for me a young single girl to travel in the woods and through mountains with a strange driver to Syria. One more time the difference between first world citizens and discrimination depending not on skin colour, but let me call it flag colour. And one more time I have to deal with the fact that to many in the world I belong to a people of a lesser God. If I were Italian, French, for God's sake even third world countries made arrangements to evacuate their citizens from Lebanon, my family and I would have been on safe soil now. During the last year Pat while studying English law I was impressed by all the principles of equity that govern the system, but now I see the application at my end and can't find any. I am not sure whether I should write again to the embassy, I am angry and maybe better not to. Surrendering to destiny is not something I am good at I want to utilize every available opportunity to break through the situation. It is not like my homeland is being invaded and I have to hold on to my land, of course I love my family, and want us all to stick together, but me staying here is not shielding them from any of the current madness. And same for my little sister, what good is it in not going to New York on time and receive all the preparations prior to her academic year. There is a caricature in today's newspaper, it resembles people from villages who were asked by Israel to leave their homes, and while running away Israeli planes shot at them. The caption says : Don't go fast, death is faster. Roula PS from Pax Christi. Since this message we contacted the British Embassy and received a reply that they may be able to help Roula as she has an existing visa for the UK. Roula too has been in contact with them, exploring possibility of getting out via Cyprus. We await developments.
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