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Palestinian child refugees document their lives

By Emanuele Comi for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Palestinian refugees in Lebanon make up about the 10 percent of the overall population
  • Photography project trained more than 200 refugee children in Lebanon to help them document their lives
  • About half of Palestinian children in refugee camps aged between 16 and 17 live in poverty

(CNN) -- Palestinian children from refugee camps in Lebanon have been given cameras to document the realities of their daily lives.

The Palestinian refugees make up about the 10 percent of the overall Lebanese population, according to United Nations figures. They live in 12 camps scattered around the country, isolated from the rest of the Lebanese society, aid workers say.

Lebanese charity Zakira, created by former photojournalist Ramzi Haidar, has trained more than 200 children from five areas of Lebanon aged between 13 and 19 through the photographic project.

They were taught how to use digital cameras which allowed them to take strong pictures showing their daily lives in the different refugee camps.

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These camps lack basic infrastructures, like running sewage systems or drain facilities to harness rainwater, and the people who live there are extremely poor and isolated from the rest of Lebanese society, Zakira says.

For example, many of the children from Shatila Camp, a few miles from Beirut, have never visited the Lebanese capital, Rima Abushakra of Zakira told CNN.

Many of the children drop out of school and work in construction or car repair shops, or just stay unemployed. About a third of the children who drop out of school are jobless, according to UNICEF.

Some of the students were particularly passionate about the project. Ahmad Mansour, 13, from Mieh Mieh Camp near Saida, was getting up at five in the morning to take pictures because he loved the sunlight at that time. He is now taking pictures at weddings as a freelance job.

Abushakra says other students have started a career in local media like Hoda Al-Ali, 14, from Shatila Camp near Beirut who is receiving training at a local newspaper, following publication of a short article and photograph.