FLO in Palestine: Waiting at the Border
The Producer Services and Relations (PSR) Unit at FLO International provides training in local languages, guidance on certification requirements, help in accessing new markets, and facilitates relationships between buyers and producers.
Chiraz Skhiri, the Fairtrade Regional Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, is travelling to Palestine this week to visit with local farmers and provide training to cooperatives and other producer organizations.
Her first entry chronicles the difficulties of crossing into Palestine:
I arrived at Allenby Bridge at 09.30 am where the long wait for no apparent reason begins. We are stuck in this no-man’s land between Jordan and Palestine waiting for a little hand to stick out the window and wave us in.
After 45 minutes and 5 buses in queue, we are in to the inspection office! I give my luggage to a Palestinian worker who gives my passport to the Israeli Officer. He applies a bar code sticker and a category number. I am in category 2. I don’t really understand what this means, but I do know that it is not category 6: full search.
At 10.30 am, I enter the first control station. Someone takes my passport and tells me “please sit down.” Ten minutes later a female officer comes, takes me aside, and asks me the regular questions, “Where you going in Israel? Where are you staying in Israel?”
Then comes the tricky question, “What is the purpose of your visit?” Here I have to explain what Fairtrade is without mentioning the words farmers, agriculture, olive oil or that I am going to Jenin.
After 10 minutes first round of questions I am asked to wait and then a smiling security officer appears, she recognized the picture on my passport. Relieved, I proceed to passport control.
Passport control… yeah the computers are out so we wait another hour. Computer back on for work… I thought I would just have passport stamped and then be released but not really, it was too good to be true.
After 3 hours, I can leave finally. I never really understand why I cannot just enter the country and do my work. And after all of that, they can see it but the only thing they tell me is that they like my name. I am improving though on the waiting time.
I am finally in the bus to Jenin.