Refugees Forever

By Najwa Sheikh

The 20th of June is the day where the world will put more focus on the refugees, and where they will celebrate what is called the world refugee day, a day that is not only for Palestinian refugees but also for other unlucky nations whose war and injustice disrupts their lives, to be called refugees forever.

I am a Palestinian refugee; my parents as well as my grandparents are refugees too, fled from our homeland Al Majdal and settled in one of the 8 refugee camps in Gaza strip.

My grandparents passed away 15 years ago, without any chance for them to see their homeland again, my parents are old and sick now, probably will face the same destiny as their parents did, and will die without any chance of having a look to what was once their homeland.

Looking through the hard lives of both my grandparents and my parents brings me nothing but a black vision of my future and the future of my children as refugees too.

Since 1948 till 2008, 60 years have passed and we the Palestinian are still called refugees, knowing this fact, and knowing the privileges that a refugee could have, especially with the denial of rights as humans from other countries either national or international to issues related to travel, immunities.

Being identified as a refugee in general and as a Palestinian refugee in particular means that there is no lines to draw for your future, no open horizons, there is only limited images flowing around from the lives of your ancestors, whom they lived and die at the same camp, under the same circumstances, and whom they face the same sufferings and injustice by the Israelis.

Expecting to have the same life of your parents, grandparents is very disappointing, not because their lives was hard, but in a sense that the lines you draw for your life are predictable, limited to the camp, to the same schools, the same universities, the same streets, and to the same Israeli obstacles, and reactions to any action taken by your people to defense their dignity and their right to live normally.

Under such circumstances, when you can predict how your life will be, and what your next step is, then it is not worth to plan, to dream, and even to feel happy when you achieve a spectacular success in your school, as always the end will be the same, a trapped life in the camp where your day and night are not much of a difference.

It is very difficult to experience such feelings, the feelings that your life will be wasted for nothing, your efforts will not make a change in your life and in the lives of others, and your dreams will be an attempt to escape form the reality that you have.

From one generation to another, nothing have changed, being educated, or having a career is nothing as far as you are a refugee living in the same borders of the camp, stranded at the same camp and will be a refugee forever.

Therefore, a refugee should be added to the list of different citizenships on the world, and the word refugee should be used in our passports as a definition of the stateless, restless, and endless journey we have to live. 

– Najwa Sheikh lives in Gaza. She contributed this article to

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