Photos & text: Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv, Shiraz Grinbaum /Activestills.org
A view of the Shuafat refugee camp covered with snow following a three-day storm, December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
Although it is hidden away from the view of most the city’s residents by a separation barrier, the Shuafat refugee camp is officially part of Jerusalem. Therefore, like every other neighborhood in Jerusalem, Shuafat’s residents (who pay municipal taxes) depend on the city for their infrastructure and sanitation services.
So what happens when the municipality simply ignores its own residents? They take matters into their own hands.
Three months ago, several young residents of Shuafat decided to take initiative and start an emergency response team (which they named “Taqam Taware’ Assalam,” or Emergency Peace Team) in order to fill in for the lacking infrastructural services. They began training in first aid and rescue skills and started to work together as a group.
Thus, when the biggest storm in years hit the region last weekend, the team quickly understood that they would be the ones to clear Shuafat’s roads of snow, as well as provide needy families with food and clean water.
Garbage piles up near the separation wall in the snow-covered Shuafat refugee camp, East Jerusalem. (Activestills.org)
A Palestinian youth walks past piles of garbage in Shuafat refugee camp, East Jerusalem, following an unprecedented three-days snow storm, December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
Members of the Shuafat emergency response team, Baha Nababta and Ismail Khatib, December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
Palestinians cross a checkpoint out of the Shuafat refugee camp, East Jerusalem. The area is covered by snow following a three-day storm December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
The emergency response team in class, Shuafat refugee camp, December 10, 2013. (from the group’s Facebook page)
The team uses a tractor from the camp to clear the roads from the snow, Shuafat refugee camp, December 16, 2013. (from the group’s Facebook page)
Palestinians cross a checkpoint into the Shuafat refugee camp, East Jerusalem. The area is covered with snow following a three-day snow storm December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
A bulldozer clears snow from the road near the separation wall outside the Shuafat refugee camp, East Jerusalem, December 15, 2013. (Activestills.org)
For more on Shuafat:
Jerusalem’s refugee camp: Abandoned by the state
Shuafat refugee camp: Walled Jerusalem ghetto gets more walls