Canada, as part of its efforts in the Middle East
Peace Process, through the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA), is funding a program to
repatriate Palestinian families from "Canada
Camp" in the Sinai to Gaza. Canada has also provided
for a new community centre in Gaza for the relocated
Canada Camp is a Palestinian refugee camp that lies
to the southwest of the Gaza city of Rafah in Sinai.
In the early 1970s, some areas of Gaza near Rafah
were cleared for road construction. The Palestinian
residents of the area were relocated to the former
Canadian contingent camp in Israeli-occupied Sinai,
which had been set up as part of the United Nations
Emergency Force following the 1956 Suez Crisis. Thus,
the camp became known as "Canada Camp."
With the signing of the Camp David accords and the
Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, the border with
Egypt was restored. The city of Rafah was then divided
into two cities, one Egyptian and the other Israeli.
Most of the camp fell within the Egyptian section
of Rafah. This left the residents of Canada Camp effectively
stranded in Egypt and separated from their families
and relatives in Gaza.
In 1982, Israel and Egypt agreed that the residents
of Canada Camp should be repatriated to Gaza. Under
the agreement, Egypt was to provide US$12 000 to each
household to help build new homes, while Israel would
provide serviced plots of land in Tel El-Sultan near
Rafah, in Gaza. Unfortunately, the program was interrupted
due to financial constraints.
In 1994, Canada announced its participation in the
Canada Camp project, funding the repatriation of the
remaining families from the Sinai. CIDA provided the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with C$1.2 million
to relocate 70 refugee families. Canada donated another
C$600 000 on March 24, 1995, to help move another
35 families from Canada Camp to Gaza.
Canada is providing each family with US$12 000 as
originally agreed in the Israel-Egypt treaty. The
funds are being used for the relocation of the families
and the building of new homes on plots in Tel El-Sultan.
Serviced lots are available for construction to begin,
for which the families themselves are responsible.
Canada also provided C$500 000 for the construction
of a Community Centre in Tel El-Sultan for the relocated
families. This centre will assist in the settlement
of the former Canada Camp refugees. The centre is
in the last stage of construction and will house activities
related to child daycare, public health, permanent
education and adult literacy courses, designed by
UNICEF and the community. At the Refugee Working Group
plenary meeting in December 1995, Kuwait announced
a contribution of US$1 million to support this project.
The project is a symbol of international support
for the Middle East Peace Process and complements
the efforts of the Refugee Working Group in the multilateral
negotiations of the Middle East Peace Process. In
its role as chair of the Refugee Working Group, Canada
has placed high priority on the needs of the refugee
The Canada Camp project seeks to re-establish some
363 households constituting over 4 000 individuals
from Canada Camp in Sinai to Tel El-Sultan in the
Gaza Strip. To date, 70 households have been relocated
through the Canadian project, with 293 (comprising
2 972 persons) awaiting resettlement. The next group
of 80 families for relocation is being identified.
The project's final objective is to return all of
the remaining families to Gaza, thus allowing for
the closure of Canada Camp.