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Refugee brothers 'alive but forgotten'

Jan. 30, 2012 9:19 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 31, 2012 1:49 A.M.)
BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- The plight of a family of Palestinian refugees underscores the dire circumstances experienced by thousands of the stateless residents of Lebanon's camps, a refugee rights group says.

The Bourshli family were expelled from Akka in Palestine in 1948 as the state of Israel was created. They fled to Sidon in southern Lebanon. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the family was forced to flee again.

In 1984, two brothers from the family, Mohsin, 63, and 51-year-old Jamal, moved into a rented garage in al-Quds neighborhood near Sidon, where they lived until 2002 when an electrical fire destroyed the building and their belongings.

Mohsin and Jamal moved into another garage, where the Thabet organization for the right of return met them.

The garage is filled with plastic and scrap material, and rats enter through a crack in the door, Thabet reported.

Jamal is unable to walk and for 10 years has spent his days and nights on an old sofa. Mohsin, who has injuries to his head and right hand, cycles around the city every morning collecting plastic scrap to sell.

The brothers receive food and $10 each every four months from the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. A human rights group provides them with bread twice a week.

A third brother, Hassan, lives in a refugee camp and works as a taxi driver, but does not earn enough to support his six children. Jamal never married and Mohsin divorced his wife 30 years ago. They have no children.

Jamal told Thabet he worried for his older brother, who needed a wheelchair.

"My brother is getting older and is suffering various illnesses and he can’t alone continue work. I can’t move but this is our fate and we are satisfied and thank god.

"We want to live like other people, to breath fresh air. We are getting older and death is awaiting us at anytime. We are alive but forgotten in a cemetery for dead."

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