“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Synopsis of Survey on Immigration: Beit Sahour

The data which follows is the result of the combined efforts of many individuals and represents an attempt to better understand the immigration problem threatening the West Bank town of Beit Sahour in particular, and that of the Palestinian territories in general, in this most recent intifada. The data which follows is the result of the combined efforts of many individuals and represents an attempt to better understand the immigration problem threatening the West Bank town of Beit Sahour in particular, and that of the Palestinian territories in general, in this most recent intifada. Beit Sahour has been hit with a wave of mass immigration over the course of the last six months. Residents, spurred on by the political and economic instability in the area, are leaving in the hopes of finding safety from the continued violence and a more stable income overseas. As a result of the mass exodus, Beit Sahour is experiencing a serious brain drain that imperils the continuity of the Christian presence there. This is significant in that Beit Sahour is one of the few towns in the Holy Land that still remains primarily Christian. The data was gathered in an effort to learn how widespread is the phenomenon, if demographic indicators such as income and age reveal any clues as to who is most vulnerable, and to identify whether the seemingly disproportionately high number of visas being issued is reflective of a worldwide trend or the policies of select countries. The survey was ecumenical in nature, targeting not one particular denomination but members of the more than 7 Christian faiths with representation in Beit Sahour. It was designed by the Program Development Department at the Latin Patriarchate, in coordination with the Latin Beit Sahour parish and parish priest. It was distributed to residents through the assistance of 18 young men and women from the Beit Sahour Latin parish youth group who volunteered their time to go door to door to get the requisite information. The survey is a good indication of the sentiments and dynamics of the community at large, as the sample is large enough to be statistically representative. The questionnaires were filled out by 216 individuals, or roughly 10% of the population, as there are 2000 Christian families in Beit Sahour. Additionally, there was no overlap between family members and surveys were delivered throughout different neighborhoods in the town. It is hoped that with this information, the church can better ascertain the needs of its Christian community and therefore, arrive at an understanding of how best to coordinate aid efforts. The Latin church is aware that the situation is becoming increasingly more critical, as each new day of the already six month long closure compounds economic hardship. The strictly enforced closure, which bars movement within the Palestinian areas as well as to and from Israel, has left those who rely upon income from trade, tourism, agriculture, and construction work inside Israel and the settlements, without work. Neither goods nor workers are allowed to cross the checkpoints, leaving store shelves bare, crops rotting in storage, laborers unemployed, and many others forced to take pay cuts. Not only has the economy been systematically crippled, but the damage done to homes, businesses, and infrastructure by the Israeli army posted at the camp in Beit Sahour has wrecked severe loss. As of late November, 164 houses had been damaged and another 8 homes had been totally destroyed by the bombing and shelling. 200 families had been displaced as a result of their homes being subject to indiscriminant IDF machine gun fire. Most residents have managed to find temporary alternative housing, although sometimes at great financial expense. (Statistics provided by the Center for Rapprochement between Peoples in Beit Sahour). The following information highlights the survey results. It is hoped that, with the needs of community residents identified, a better plan of response can be marshaled and tangible relief provided. The church intends to solicit the necessary support so as to meet these needs and thereby ensure the continuity of the Christian Palestinian presence in the Holy Land. Summary of findings: 32.0% of male respondents are unemployed 61.4% of female respondents are unemployed 62.3% of respondents have relatives abroad. 19.3% of respondents applied for an immigration visa application 62.5% of applications are for immigration to the USA 37.5% of applications were submitted after October 2000 24.5% of respondents applied for a visa to travel abroad. 51.2 % of respondents are considering immigrating due to difficult political conditions 34.7% of those considering immigration choose to go to the U.S. 40.0% of those considering immigrating to the US already have visas

2016-10-24T07:35:56+00:00 April 10th, 2001|Categories: News|