Long-term Palestinian refugees

The Shatila refugee camp, in Beitrut, Lebanon has been hosting Palestinians since 1949. Obviously such a lifelong displacement wrought havoc with the refugees’ careers and livelihoods. Always hoping to return home, and in some cases having no basis on which to start a new life in their host countries, these refugees have had an impoverished existence. Like their fellows in Syrian camps, such as at Latakia (which we visited in 2010), they are also gravely threatened by the present wars in the region.

Setting off tomorrow (25th July 2014), the Creative Humanity Partnership will be taking a convoy to the Shatila refugee camp. Their convoy includes one of our former colleagues with whom we have worked in Gaza, and we wish them the very best of luck carrying much-needed basic supplies to this deeply deprived long-term refugee camp. They are particularly focusing on items for children there, and will be including everything from sports equipment to nappies! There will also be educational and play items for children, and clothing for children and adults.

You can find out more about the organisation on their Facebook page.

They’ve also made a great video trailer for their project, partly using some footage from their previous, pilot trip.

(If the video loads slowly from our server, you can try directly on a dedicated video site, vimeo.)

End of the line for kidnap ship

Strofades IV scrappedThe M.V. Strofades IV, which was used in 2010 to kidnap aid workers including Aid Convoy’s director Kieran Turner, has been reported scrapped in Turkey.

The aid workers had been part of the Road to Hope convoy to Gaza, which had chartered the vessel to transport approximately 35 ambulances and medical supplies vehicles from Libya to Egypt, prior to their final land passage over the border into Gaza. This expensive and complicated method of delivery is mandated by the Egyptians who support entry to Gaza only via the seaport or airport at the Eastern Sinai town of Al Arish.

It is still not known for certain why the owner and captain of the vessel initiated the kidnap; during their illegal exit from the port of Derna in Libya – directly against the harbourmaster’s instructions – they caused a tremendous amount of damage to their own ship, and indeed the harbour walls. They also attempted to ram a coastguard vessel. The team of 7 British, 2 Irish, and 1 Algerian volunteers, together with 7 Libyan port officials and policemen, were held in extremely unsafe conditions on the Mediterranean Sea for 4 days before being rescued by Greek commando special forces, after assistance from the container ship OOCL Oakland, which answered their radio mayday call. The owner and captain of the Strofades IV were arrested in Greece.