Two representatives of the Arab Bedouin community attended a United Nations meeting in Geneva last week entitled, “The Forum of Coexistence.”

The UN meeting dealt with the difficulties of Indigenous people all over the world who  are threatened with displacement from what is left of the lands they have called home for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Delegates from various international organizations and representatives from Native American tribes, the Moroccan Berber community, and the Australian Aborigines, among others attended the meeting..

The two representatives of the Arab Bedouin community, Firyal Al Nadi and Ariel Abu Dlomi traveled to Geneva to discuss the rights of the Bedouin people living in their villages, which are unrecognized by Israeli authorities, in the southern Negev Desert.

Al Nadi and Dlomi noted that the issue of the Arab Bedouin population has gained more attention in recent years. Nevertheless, the two representatives held a special event on the suffering of the Arab population in the Negev, featuring lectures and a film presentation.

Speaking to the Palestine News Network, on Wednesday,  Dlomi said  that the event was aimed at raising concern over the Bedouin issue among meeting attendees, and displaying the interconnectedness of the struggles facing all of the world’s indigenous populations.

“The next step is to invite experts from the United Nations to the Negev in order to provide advice on how to resolve the Bedouin issue, using their experience with similar problems in other countries.”

He cited a report prepared in collaboration with the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages for the United Nations, which outlined the Bedouin struggle over land in the Negev. Some 24 percent of the land that has historically been home to the Bedouins is currently under the control of the Israeli army.

Eighty thousand Palestinian Bedouin Israelis live in unrecognized villages in the Negev desert in the south of Israel. The majority of the villages existed at the time of the creation of Israel in 1948 and some were established in the early 1960’s when Israel evacuated Bedouins from northern Negev to areas south of Beersheba..

With the adoption of the Israeli Planning and Construction Law in 1965, 45 villages in the Negev were declared non-existant. The villages do not appear on any Israeli map. They are not recognized by any official government and are ignored by all government planning projects.This status has serious consequences for villagers who live in them

The families in the villages mostly live in shacks under zinc roofs where the temperature can reach as high as 55 degrees Celsius. There is no authority that can decide upon permits for the construction of properties. The building of houses in the villages is therefore unlicensed and they are at all times under threat of demolition.