The academy is located in Burj Barajneh, a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. 30,000 people live in one square kilometre of land, recognised by the UN but forgotten by the rest of the world.
The vacuum created by governmental indifference has led to a lack of infrastructure, basic services and education. The gap has been filled by rival political factions who are locked in a constant battle for territory and influence. To understand the present situation we need to step back into history.
15th May 1948
On 15th May 1948, Israel invaded Palestine. Overnight, 700,000 Palestinians became refugees. Most fled to Lebanon and 20,000 ended up in our camp. The displaced Palestinians were now officially stateless. The world’s two great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, immediately recognised Israel.
The UN appointed Swedish diplomat, Folke Bernadotte, as its mediator to Palestine. He recognised the plight of the Palestinians and attempted to address their suffering. His efforts to bring about a peaceful solution ended when he was assassinated by Israeli special forces in September 1948.
Between 1948 and 1952, while the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinians continued, over 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, filling the space left by the Palestinians. Then things got really complicated.
War broke out between neighbouring Arab countries and the new Zionist state. Over the next twenty years, armies from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq engaged in conflicts with Israel. This created a whole new set of diplomatic problems for the world to cope with and changed the narrative, leaving over 4 million stateless Palestinian to be forgotten.
When Israel was admitted into the UN, its grip over 78 percent of historic Palestine was consolidated. The remaining 22 percent became known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Today, Palestinians in Lebanon face problems trying to realise even their basic rights, especially in the areas of health, education, and employment. Palestinians are prohibited from voting or pursuing syndicated professions, including medicine, according to UNRWA .
Because of restrictive laws, job opportunities are scarce. This has created an underclass of persecuted people living on the fringe of society and outside a land of opportunity. Our aim is to provide the children of the camp with the opportunities their parents weren’t.