In the Camps We Die of Minor Illnesses
By Wissam al-Ahmad and Mirvat Issa

Two years ago my brother got asthma, which affects most people in the camps because of the unhygienic conditions and the very humid houses, as well as the stench of garbage and sewage. In most places asthma is not a serious disease and it is curable if you have the right medicine and treatment. But my brother died of asthma. Why? Because we could only treat him at the clinics reserved for the Palestinian people. At those clinics the doctors would give him a prescription without even doing any tests or checkups. So we would go to the pharmacy attached to the clinic and they would say that they didn’t have the medication. They told us we would find it at the fancy pharmacies and medicine warehouses. But it would be very expensive there and we couldn’t afford it. The whole family works just to be able to afford our food and rent.

One day my brother’s conditions got worse and he needed oxygen in a hospital emergency room. But no hospital would take us. So my brother died because of a minor illness, while our kings don’t even die of major illnesses like cancer or AIDS. My brother died like most refugees in the camp, from minor illnesses that they get because of living conditions in the camp: pollution due to the mixing of running water with sewage, or humidity, or the stench of garbage, or poverty and malnutrition. Should we die simply because we are Palestinians without land, and because we are displaced people without a nationality?