Most civil society groups in the camps are actually extensions of Palestinian political parties, Saad said. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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Civil society in Palestinian camps chokedSitting in his office in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, a man who requested to be identified as Youssef, received a call from an anonymous number. He was told to come to an area controlled by the Islamist group Jund al-Sham – one of many factions that have a presence in the camp. Some 450,000 Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA, many of whom are confined to 12 camps around the country.The severe lack of opportunity has left little space for Palestinian civil society groups to grow, while factional violence in the camps has threatened and corrupted the few that remain.Qassem El Saad, the chairman of Nabaa, said that most civil society groups in the camps are actually extensions of Palestinian political parties. Over 3,000 people fled the camp as Fatah and Jund al-Sham clashed.Yet while conflict poses an obvious threat, legal restrictions on Palestinians remain the primary culprit in limiting the effectiveness of independent civil society organizations and generating poverty in the camps.
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