IRIN – Electrocution in the camps

The 48 deaths from electrocution in Palestinian camp cuts to the heart of the problems faced by many Palestinians in Lebanon

Bourj el-Barajneh camp

Draped with water pipes and high voltage wires, the major fuse box that splits power from the grid in the centre of Beirut’s Bourj el-Barajneh is known locally as the “wall of death.” Rusty and exposed, it stands at head height on a major thoroughfare in this overcrowded Palestinian refugee camp. Several people have died tinkering with it over the years, and yet nothing has ever been done to make it safer.

For a symbol of the struggle Palestinian refugees face in trying to live a basic but dignified existence when 18,000 human beings are squeezed chaotically onto just one square kilometre of land, look no further.

According to camp officials, 48 people have died from electrocution in Bourj el-Barajneh in the past five years. The majority of these accidents were preventable, but the combination of a lack of funding, Lebanese political intransigence and Palestinian infighting have scuppered any chance of carrying out the simple reforms that could have saved dozens of lives.

Ahmed al-Qaed, 54, was deaf and desperate. He settled for employment as a builder in construction. Earning a meagre $26 a week, his wage barely supported his wife Amal and their three children. In Bourj el-Barajneh, any construction work is also highly dangerous.

Last October, Ahmed took a break to have lunch at home with his wife. Shortly after he returned to work, there was a frantic banging on the door. Ahmed had been electrocuted by a dangling overhead cable. Carried to hospital, he died hours later. “He was a modest man,” 34-year-old Amal said solemnly. “[But] he was good to us.”…[Continue reading over at IRIN News]

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Tags: Bourj el-Barajneh, camps, development, electrocution, freelance, IRIN, Living in Lebanon, Palestinian, and refugees.