Let’s start with the ugly, shall we? The night before I left Deheishe I attended my first azza (a gathering of grieving people) because my friend’s father died of a heart attack. He was fairly young, in his late 50s, and he has two sons in jail. They cannot know that their father is dead because they are not allowed phone privileges. Can you imagine having a parent die and not being allowed to know, to grieve with your family, to hug your mother and seek comfort from her? When I came home from the azza, the love of my life, little six-year-old Diala was sitting on her parents’ bed pouring herself over a photo album, all by herself, of photographs of her brother who is also in an Israeli prison. She invited me to sit on the bed and shared each memory and story that her short life could summon.
The bad: Yesterday I took an ABC news reporter with me to No Man’s Land and Al Ruweished refugee camps. We decided to go to No Man’s Land first. We arrived and went to the Liaison Office where the American and Jordanian soldiers work. She’s a TV and Internet news reporter so she had a professional camera with her. This is the first time I’ve returned to these camps with a journalist. We waited for 3 hours in the office when we were finally told that we couldn’t enter the camp, that she needed permission from the Jordanian Ministry of the Interior (MOI). This is unbelievable because the MOI told me that they have no jurisdiction there (the No Man’s Land camp is technically located on Iraqi soil, though the U.S. soldiers tell me that sometimes this border changes) thus they could not give me permission; thus, my permission has always been given by the Jordanian military officials. But today they said no to Mara, the reporter. At one point they said they would bring Azad and Khabet, two of the Iranian Kurdish refugees from the camp, to meet with us in their office. Then they invited us to eat lunch and when we were finished they told us that Khabet and Azad were taken back to the refugee camp. I called them as we were driving away only to find out that they were still in the office next door to where we were. The Jordanian soldiers lied to us. They obviously didn’t want them to speak to a reporter; unfortunately, despite the fact that Mara explained this to them, they didn’t seem to get it that it makes Jordan looks far worse if a journalist is denied access than if she could have gone inside. Now the story will be shifted and the lack of access will become a part of the story itself.
The good: It’s official. The Iranian Kurds in Al Ruweished refugee camp are being resettled. 111 will move to Sweden, 179 to Ireland, and 14 to Denmark. Apparently, this is Ireland’s first time to take refugees into their country. This leaves the Palestinian refugees who still have no word on whether or not they will be offered refuge anywhere.