The al-âAwda Camp was inaugurated on Thursday in Ramallah. The camp is a main feature in this weekâs Nakba commemoration and will serve as a central site for daily cultural and educational events.
The camp, which was open from noon until midnight, attracted a large number of Palestinians as well as considerable press attention. A number of schools in Ramallah, al-Bireh and the surrounding refugee camps closed during the early afternoon so as to allow their students to be present at the proceedings.
Located in a tree-filled lot near the Moqata, al-âAwda Camp is modelled after a 1948 refugee camp. On the covering attached to the fences surrounding the area are printed the names of the towns and villages depopulated during the Palestinian Nakba. The white canvas tents inside serve as meeting places and display areas. One such tent presented an exhibition on Palestinian heritage, showcasing beautiful cultural artefacts. Handcrafted traditional Palestinian clothing and ceramics were on display, along with keys to Palestinian homes located inside the 1948 lines. The most popular area of the day was the tent from which t-shirts, posters and hats commemorating the Nakba were distributed to those present. People were also given booklets and studies that highlighted the historical, legal and ethical aspects of the Right of Return.
During the evening, a film about historic Palestine and the villages of 1948 was screened. Also, several dabka groups from the âAida and Deheisha refugee camps around Bethlehem gave live performances.
Another area of the camp is set up to provide live video feed between the camp and a number of locations in Europe and the Middle East including France, Cairo and Damascus as well as the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. The system enables three participants, two internationally and one from Ramallah, to speak together directly. Not only did this increase international participation and solidarity, but also it allowed the refugee camps direct access to the proceedings.
This live connection also gave the Palestinian people an avenue to call for increased international support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The major Palestinian trade unions, civil society groups, NGOs and networks back the call for BDS.