Monthly Archives: January 2014

Al-Yarmouk Camp is Calling You. From Mohammad Arafat

I don`t write this article because Al-Yarmouk camp in Palestinian. I don`t write this article because it`s an Arab camp inside an Arab country, but I write it because the humanity wants me and every pure pen to hoist the flag of humanity in the sky of the silent world to show others what`s going on in Al-Yarmouk camp and its people in Syria
I don`t want to speak about who is creating the crisis in this camp. I don`t want to speak about who is responsible for that. I just want to speak about the problems and how the Palestinian refugees suffer and being tortured.
There were many things in my mind about this camp two weeks ago to speak about. I told my mind not to say anything in order not to increase the Palestinian wounds. My mind began to moan and told me that the scenes that inside him are so heavy and he cannot carry them alone. He told me he will explode unless I don`t say what he has. He begged me more than three times and finally I agreed and began my article with: What`s going on in Al-Yarmouk camp? What`s happening with its Palestinian people? Are they really hungry and thirsty? What are they eating and drinking?
Al-Yarmouk camp is a Palestinian camp that established by the UNRWA since 1957 .It is a 2.11 square kilometers of Syrian lands. It`s the biggest camp in Syria for the Palestinian refugees. This camp is full of narrow streets and small homes with big families. Many poor Syrians are living in it beside their Palestinian refugees.
In 2011 and during the Syrian crisis, this camp was a shelter for many Syrian families after they lost their homes in Syrian cities, villages and lanes.
I was watching T.V here in Gaza moving from a news channel to another looking for something new to write about. I watched Al-Jazera news channel and got some news that Al-Yarmouk camp is being besieged. I told to myself that this camp has been being besieged since two years from the beginning of the Syrian crisis, so I did not consider those things. I continued watching news and then moved to a Palestinian news Channel was talking about the same thing about Al-Yarmouk camp. I told to myself that there must be something new in the Palestinian camp in Syria. I moved from a channel to another many times and found the same thing too. The media was just talking about the Al-Yarmouk camp and the starving waves that occupied it .As I was listing to that, I got shocked and felt some hot tears dropping from my eyes and then I asked myself” Is that really happening those days? Can that really happen?”
I saw what no one saw. I saw tragic sad clips full of horrible scenes about the Palestinians there. I saw what my heart believed and what my mind didn`t. I saw three little cute children were looking for something to eat in a trash container. They found some old pieces of paper and began to eat them gluttony as if they eat something delicious. I saw an innocent tolerated mother was cooking water with stones in a big cooker on fire for her two sons and daughter waiting for someone to come and get her real food. I saw four grownups were eating the leaves of trees and one of them was saying” We cannot even find the green leaves”.
I saw something unbelievable that I cannot mention, but I will mention it in order to let others know the truth. I saw some men were slaughtering a cat preparing it for boiling and then eating as if they slaughter a sheep or a big cow. Then one of them said” This camp is empty of cats. We cannot find them any more”.
A friend of mine told me something I could not believe at all. He told me that many Palestinian refugees began to burn their homes completely. I asked him why and he answered sadly” They are burning their homes because they are despair of life. They lost their wishes in this life. They lost the solidarity of their Arab and non Arab countries in this world”. During his speech, my eyes were full of tears and my they turned into red.
Why are the Palestinians suffering everywhere and anytime? What is happening? Why are others silent? Why are others still putting their fingers in their ears in order not to hear the Palestinian refugees` moaning? Why are others still closing their eyes in order not to see what`s going on there? Why are others still folding their arms with glue waiting for nothing? Why are others saying that those scenes are just kinds of nonsense?
Done by Mohammad S. Arafat
12:15 pm
12/ 1/ 2014

A Community Trust In Handsworth Wood

With the great give away of community assets there is a great wish to try to preserve some control in the hands of local people as local council representation continues to weaken. Local councillors wring their hands. “Nothing can be done” is their cry.

In Birmingham’s Handsworth Wood Ward the City Council announced they were considering a transfer of assets of the hard won Laurel Road Sport Centre. At one time a very modest wooden building was freely available to use until a fire caused by an electrical fault in a vending machine burned it down. Local people supported by there then councillors helped campaign for a new improved rebuild. This was achieved with the help of Sports England with a new brick building and greatly enhanced sporting facilities. It came at a price of greatly reducing the availability of the centre to local people. No the considerable sums spent could just be handed over to a private concern who, if like Sports England, will be interested for a short period. After that anything could happen.

Why not then set up a local Community Trust? I have just learned that one has been set up, but the opportunity to get involved seems obscure. Who is a member of it and how to apply is not “open” and “transparent” as these well worn words, continuously and consistently declared as key to local democracy is not apparent.

Mick Archer, a local political activist, has been asking some pertinent questions and found that such a trust was formed in 2013 as a limited company, with Councillor Gurdial Singh Atwal the lead director. We know it was awarded £10,000 of money from the devolved Community Chest, decisions for the spending of which are in the hands of the three Handsworth Wood Ward Councillors. Mick Archer’s ongoing enquiry is proceeding.