As this issue of FMR goes to print, thousands of IDPs and refugees are heading home following the announcement of the UN-brokered ceasefire which came into force on 14 August.
Three-quarters of the Palestinian people are displaced. Approximately one in three refugees worldwide is Palestinian. More than half are displaced outside the borders of their historic homeland.
Palestinians are the largest stateless community in the world. Statelessness has dominated and shaped the lives of four generations of Palestinian refugees since their exodus in 1948.
UNRWA is the largest UN operation in the Middle East, with over 27,000 staff, almost all of whom are refugees themselves. Originally envisaged as an organisation with a temporary mandate, UNRWA’s programmes have evolved to meet the changing needs of the 4.3 million Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
When the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established it was only intended to offer a temporary solution, not one that would last for 56 years.
With support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is working to give a human face to the under-reported, unrepresented and marginalised group of Palestinians living in Lebanon without any form of identity.
Jordan’s decision not to legally integrate ex-residents of Gaza has led to long-term neglect of their civil rights and denied them opportunities to secure decent livelihoods. Statelessness leaves many in a permanent state of legal limbo.
Once Israeli troops and settlers were withdrawn from Gaza in August 2005 did it cease to be occupied?
Many of the approximately 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq have been living in the country since 1948 and have known no other home. Stereotyped as supporters of Saddam Hussein, and prime candidates for the insurgency, many today face harassment, threats of deportation, media scapegoating, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.
A combination of checkpoints, physical obstacles and a permit system has cut the West Bank into three distinct areas – in addition to East Jerusalem. Within these areas, sub-enclaves have been created, isolating many Palestinian communities, restricting their access to services and stifling commerce.
Israel rigorously controls the identities of the four million Palestinians living under its control in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The occupying authorities have ingeniously engendered statelessness for an entire population.
Israel is close to implementing a long-term plan to transform the demographic structure of annexed East Jerusalem. Policies to revoke the residency permits of Palestinian Jerusalemites and to Judaise the city have been described as ethnic cleansing.
House demolitions reflect the refusal of Israel to acknowledge that there is another people living in the country with legitimate claims and rights of their own
According to Israel the West Bank Barrier is a security measure. Opponents argue that it is set to become a de facto border, pre-empting final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and incorporating illegal settlements into Israel.
Assisting communities affected by the Wall often involves difficult decisions. Does assistance contribute to the permanence of the Wall or legitimise its existence?
In November 2005 I returned to Palestine for the first time in over a decade. I knew that a lot of things would have change for the worse. Restrictions on daily life are now even harsher than I remembered but one change in particular left me speechless.
The victory of Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Israel’s subsequent decision to withhold tax payments and the refusal of donors to provide funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA) have grave implications for the welfare of individuals, for democracy and for Palestinian civil society.
The barrage of news on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict obscures attention from the Arab population living as internally displaced Israeli citizens on Israeli territory. Particularly forgotten are the approximately 186,600 Bedouin of the Negev in southern Israel who constitute 12% of the country’s Arab population.
For much of the past hundred years the hallmark of Palestinian resistance has not been violence but non-violence. In light of the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, Palestinians risk more than ever being collectively dismissed as violent and impossible to talk with. In fact, new forms of active non-violence are alive and growing.
In the absence of mechanisms to protect the population of the OPT, and the reluctance or impotence of the ‘international community’, global civil society activists and human rights campaigners – working with Palestinian and Israeli actors – have stepped into the breach.
Funds from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Department (ECHO) alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and support projects for the three million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria whose humanitarian needs are often neglected by the international community.
Israel’s failure to provide reparations to Palestinian refugees over the past six decades is in blatant violation of international law.
Palestinian refugees should be allowed to choose and decide, based on informed opinions, whether or not they wish to return to their homes. This is their legal and moral right. Is it also their right to participate in discussions about their future? If so, how should they participate?
In Palestine I can never drive for more than half an hour without being stopped at checkpoints. Soldiers irritate me with the same questions, the same procedures, time and time again. No value is put on the time of a Palestinian.
After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 academic freedom in the United States is facing its most serious threats since the McCarthy era. A new publication argues that freedom to pursue critical thinking about the Middle East, most particularly Palestine, is under sustained attack.
Ensuring an effective, coherent and humane response to mixed migratory movements remains a major challenge.
Governments take often shockingly blunt action to deter refugees and other migrants found on the high seas, in their island territories and in overseas enclaves. There is a pervasive belief that when deterrence is conducted at arms-length from the homeland it is either legitimate or, at the very least, immune from legal accountability.
The establishment of rule of law is crucial to sustaining peace-building efforts in post-conflict Sudan. In March 2005, UNDP embarked on a major rule of law programme in the isolated and war-torn Three Areas region in order to facilitate people’s access to justice.
Education is an absolute right for all children, yet in Darfur children have always had limited access to schooling. Innovative programmes and increased assistance are vital if children in South Darfur are to exercise this right.
As Burundi faces its greatest challenges since the violence in 1993 that cost 300,000 lives, the way it manages the return and reintegration of IDPs and refugees will be a determining factor for the success of its transition to peace.
Diversity among refugee and IDP populations is often overlooked. Through its Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming Strategy, UNHCR is working to ensure that persons of concern receive equal opportunities to access UNHCR services, regardless of age, sex and background.
UNHCR’s institutional response to the protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is still seriously inadequate.
The Narmada Valley Development Plan – which involves the construction of 30 large dams (including the Sardar Sarovar dam), 135 medium and 3,000 small dams in Western India – is set to displace millions. Compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation mechanisms are non-existent, inadequate and/or unjust.