Other special concerns expressed by some Fall Semester Palestinian students include issues such as library hours. One problem is that often Palestinian students want to be able to study late and early at campus libraries given the difficulties of studying in the camps due to lack of electricity, no internet, and a paucity of basics such as portable water, a quiet place to study, congestion due to refugees from Syria, and sometimes security issues.
For example, visiting Jalil,(Wavell) camp near Baalbek last week, this observer was briefed on the typical kinds of problems students in the camps face.
One such example follows although there are many travails burdening the camps that impact aspiring students. In Jalil camp, UNRWA's technical team recently discovered serious construction violations in the camps well that cause raw sewage and other contaminants to pollute the drinking water. Contamination of the al-Jalil camp water has been a problem for years but now the Palestinian popular committees say they have been forced to shut down the well.
One student explained: "We are being made to pay for this, in this scorching heat and at a time when the camp is very overcrowded because of the poor Palestinian refugees from Syria."
According to a Jalil Camp Popular Committee official, the camps only well had to be sealed "to prevent the spread of an epidemic inside the camp, which could kill 6,000 of the 10,000 residents as well as the Palestinian refugees from Syria who have come here." Students and camp residents across Lebanon dispute the UNRWA 2011 achievement report that asserts that wells have been dug in all Palestinian camps and that all "are fit for drinking, including al-Jalil camp."
One UNRWA official, quoted on 10/3/12 by Beirut's Al-Akhbar newspaper, on the condition of anonymity, does not deny the accusations of building violations, but insists that the well is not contaminated "all this time" and UNWRA does not see "any dereliction of duty in treating the problem." The official claims that the people of the camp will have to "wait for the engineer in charge of resolving the problem of the well to finish his work. In the meantime, the water quality is at its worse this time of year but can be used if it is properly boiled," adding that it is "not possible for UNWRA to dig a new well in al-Jalil given the state of emergency in the rest of the camps in Lebanon."
Against a backdrop of many such problems and challenges, more Palestinian refugees in Lebanon than in recent memory will enter university this fall semester. Preparing, as many insist, to take up their national resistance duties and reconstruct their country and reclaim much of their purloined culture upon returning to Palestine.
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