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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Caritas aid workers witness horror of Jenin
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¬†CAFOD partners Caritas Jerusalem, who have been distributing food, medicines and blankets to the people of Jenin say they were shocked at the conditions they found and the plight of the refugees. "Jenin is heartbreaking. It is shocking. I could not sleep after I visited there. I'm not angry, I'm very sad. Sad at what has happened and sad that the world appears to be ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people. The world has to wake up to what has happened to the people of Jenin. It is a humanitarian disaster", said Director of Caritas Jerusalem, Claudette Habesch. "The hygiene is terrible. I had to walk through raw sewage because the sewage pipes have been destroyed. The smell of rotting corpses was overpowering. People have to live in this area, without rooms, without houses, without kitchens, without utensils, without blankets. We are very worried about disease", she added. The refugee camp at Jenin has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the West Bank during the last month. Palestinians claim civilians were massacred at the camp while Israeli officials say only a few dozen armed militants were killed. The UN is hoping to send a fact-finding mission to investigate. But it is not just the immediate situation that concerns Caritas Jerusalem. It is also very worried about the long-term effects of the recent violence. Claudette Habesch explained: "Another disturbing fact in Jenin is all the Palestinian Authority buildings have been completely destroyed. This is true in Ramallah, and Gaza too. It will take over five years to rebuild. In addition, all our work at rehabilitation has been destroyed. Before we'd get young Israelis and Palestinians to meet and share stories. Now if I tell Palestinians from Nablus, Jenin, Hebron to talk of rehabilitation with Israelis, I fear they will kill me as a collaborator. "I am really sad. By nature, I'm an optimist, yet like Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, 'there is no place left for optimism but we will keep hope.' We need to tell the stories of human beings who have suffered to the world - not the stories of Arafat and Sharon. If we do nothing, the law of the jungle has won". CAFOD has contributed £40,000 to the Caritas International appeal for half a million pounds to help those caught up in the conflict.
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