Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon is perhaps the last place you’d expect to find artistic inspiration. But for Abed, the camp provides endless possibilities.
Abdul Rahman – Abed for short – has always been artistic, but never dreamed that he could make a living that way. He was born and raised in a Palestinian refugee “gathering” called the Gaza hospital, just outside the boundaries of the Shatila camp. The hospital is an old medical centre, where people took refuge after their homes were destroyed during the 1980s in the Sabra and Shatila massacres and the War of the Camps. Now the hospital houses hundreds of people and is a community in itself.
Abed’s parents encouraged him to learn a vocation – but he had other ideas. He applied to an arts programme at one of Lebanon’s top universities and, to his surprise, was accepted. Abed graduated at the top of his class and went on to a masters programme. He is now an accomplished artist with a distinct style. Abed’s work, which reflects the often contradictory feelings experienced in the camps, can now be found in art galleries across the Middle East and Europe.
UNRWA provides direct services to registered and non-registered refugees, whether they live inside or outside official camps. Palestine refugees who live outside of camps still have access to schools, health services and other services. Approximately 425,000 registered refugees currently live in Lebanon.