Qalandia: A Camp of Child Detainees and Palestinian Barbie

Established in 1959, there are 10,500 in the camp which is 1km sq. There are two schools for children up to 15. Each class is about 50. There are 7 NGOs working in the camp, one of which is Save the Children.

The camp is very close to the border with Greater Jerusalem and the security barrier. I was told 38 children from the camp have been shot dead whilst throwing stones at the military. In 2000, 7 children under 12 from the camp were killed.

There are still large numbers of children in detention from the camp. Of the 76 imprisoned, most are under 18. I was told in a very matter of fact way that this is because it is the 15 and 16 year olds who are most frequently arrested.

I was told that the Israeli army visits the camp frequently. There were in the camp the night before our arrival, using their megaphones to insult and try to provoke people. There is also aggravation between the camp and the nearby and ever encroaching Kalkub Yakoob settlement. I was told that there had been random shooting from the roof of one of the homes in the settlement two nights before.

I asked about how the camp ran itself and was told that the men at the top of the table were its elected representatives. I asked if there were any women elected representatives. This seemed to provoke quite a lot of rolling of eyes and sniggering at my end of the table where the Palestinian women were sitting. I was told that the women had the Women's Centre. I was duly invited by the women to their centre. The guys told us that there was not enough time, but we were off.

It was a sad little series of concrete rooms, with very little in them that I could really believe was regularly used by women. They showed me a contraption for doing step aerobics and something that I suspect was for sit- ups. They were under a side table and were very unconvincing. There was a large Scout emblem which had been painted on the wall with great enthusiasm by someone. But the thing I remember best was the handicrafts. Well to be honest, just one set of handicrafts. They had been making dolls clothes and had a Palestinian Barbie! I was sorely tempted to get one, but my daughter's Barbie days finished some time ago.


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