Problems of Palestinian refugees

Problems of Palestinian refugees


By Dr. Essam Muhammad Ali Adwan




The Palestinian refugee issue is at the core of the Palestinian cause. It is one of the most complex issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This case extends from 1948 until now, There are no signs of near- or far-reaching solutions on the horizon.




The refugee issue arose since Zionist gangs attacked Palestinian villages and cities in early 1948 and committed many brutal massacres, causing the expulsion and displacement of about 960,000 Palestinians. They were estimated at two-thirds of the Palestinian people at the time. On 11/12/1948, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 194 was issued, which called in paragraph 11 for the return and compensation of refugees. But Israel did not respond to the resolution, This prompted the United Nations to establish an international organization for the relief of Palestinian refugees until their return. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) established by General Assembly Resolution No. 302 of 8/12/1949. Its mission was: Provide relief, and working together for refugees. It has continued to provide its services to this day.


Developments in the refugee issue:


While there has not been any solution even partially for these refugees since their cause arose, Israel raided Palestinian areas in the early fifties that caused the displacement of nearly 200,000 new Palestinian refugees. Because of the massive Israeli aggression in 1967 and its occupation of the rest of Palestine, It expelled and displaced about 350,000 Palestinians, Some were displaced for the second time. After the setback of June 1967 , the authorities of the Israeli occupation state expelled hundreds of Palestinians and deported them. and the withdrawal of identities from hundreds, Preventing the renewal of the IDs of hundreds of those who were outside Palestine, These measures have deprived thousands of Palestinians of their homeland and their rights. This made them additions to the number of refugees who could not find anyone to do justice to them or restore their rights.


Problems of Palestinian refugees:


The problems faced by refugees have multiplied and complexed, Between political, social, economic, cultural and humanitarian, Refugees have faced it with much insistence on their cause and their rights. Despite the lack or fragility of the solutions offered to them. We briefly review the most important of these problems:


First of all: Political problems:


  • Israel has not complied with international resolutions on the Palestinian refugee issue. The international community has not committed to their implementation, The most important of them are: Resolution 194 (1948), 242 (1967)، 2535 (1969)، 3236 (1974)، 20/31 (1976)، 237 (1967)، 2252 (1967)، 2792 (1971).


  • At this point, the United Nations has not adopted a specific official definition of a Palestinian refugee. It is the loophole through which Israel tried to revoke the refugee status of millions of Palestinian refugees, and the United States of America helped it in doing so. Especially in the era of Donald Trump. Misdefining who a Palestinian refugee is would waste the rights of millions of them. Therefore, the author proposed a definition that was adopted by the Palestinian Legislative Council by Resolution No. 1 of 2008. Stipulate: “A Palestinian refugee is any Palestinian who has prevented and prevented the Zionist occupation from enjoying citizenship rights in his native town of Palestine. regardless of the date of deprivation of this right or the manner in which it was denied.”


  • Neither the Palestinian refugee camps (60 camps inside and outside Palestine) nor those residing outside them enjoy any political rights. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt also prevent Palestinian refugees on their territories from enjoying political rights. Such as election, candidacy and party formation. Of all Arab countries, only Jordan grants refugees Jordanian citizenship and thus political rights as Jordanians and not as Palestinians.


Secondly: Social problems:


  • Refugees lacked extended family unity, The same family was scattered in more than one Arab and non-Arab countries. The customs of the refugees were mixed with the cultural environment where they lived.


  • Refugees of different nationalities intermarriage, created new problems, In Lebanon, for example, the state refuses to grant the children of refugees married to Lebanese women citizenship.


  • Thousands of refugees in Lebanon have lacked identification papers since the early seventies, some in the early eighties. Therefore, they cannot leave Lebanon or work in it, Their children have no access to education or work. He gave them the nickname: Stateless.


  • As a result of the political developments in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Large numbers of Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their place of residence to which they have been accustomed for decades to distant countries in the world. Without care or attention from anyone. The number of refugees in Lebanon has fallen from about half a million to only about 174,000.


  • The number of Palestinian refugees in the world has reached more than 11 million, UNRWA recognizes some 5.6 million refugees currently on its records.


  • In 2017, Iraqi President Fuad Masum ratified, A law stripping Palestinian refugees in Iraq of all the privileges and rights they enjoyed before 2003.

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Thirdly: Economic problems:


  • Refugees suffered in their places of refuge, including inside Palestine, of extraordinary unemployment rates and higher unemployment rates among citizens or citizens of the host country, The percentage reached about 65% in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. and 45% in the West Bank. Poverty rates in Syria have increased as a result of displacement.


  • Although UNRWA’s mission is to employ refugees, it currently employs only 30,000 Palestinian staff. They were 31,000 employees in 2010. Despite the multiplication of refugees, And the increase in their needs in light of the difficult conditions to which their areas have been exposed since that date, However, UNRWA staff are declining due to UNRWA policies that respond to some international pressure seeking to end the refugee issue.


  • This month, the UNRWA leadership issued a decision to pay half of the salaries of these employees and postpone the other half until funds are available claiming financial hardship. In addition to the elimination of hundreds of temporary staff by UNRWA, Hundreds more were converted from permanent staff to temporary. These policies contribute to increasing unemployment and poverty among refugees, It affects the Palestinian market in general, where purchasing power is weakened. It also represents a departure from UNRWA’s mandate to employ refugees.


  • Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are currently deprived of more than 40 jobs and professions. Years ago there were more than 70 jobs and professions, Under the pretext of discouraged refugees from staying in Lebanon.


  • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Syria as a result of the conflict since 2011 have been displaced inside and outside Syria. They lost their source of funding and business, And they became homeless, UNRWA also abandoned most of them.

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Fourthly: Cultural and educational problems:


  • Palestinian refugees have been subjected to non-Palestinian education in their places of refuge, This would affect their national culture. UNRWA even teaches the curriculum of each host country. The Palestinian curriculum is taught only in Gaza and the West Bank.


  • UNRWA is trying to introduce educational vocabulary in Gaza and the West Bank with the aim of preparing refugee children to coexist with Israel. and influence their conservative culture by talking about gender and equality, and religious values. Although refugees and their representatives rejected these steps, UNRWA is continuing with its project.


  • Out of about 4 million school-age students among the Palestinian refugee populations around the world, UNRWA provides school education to only about six hundred thousand refugees through only about 270 schools. Consequently, the greatest burden of education for Palestinian refugees falls on host countries. And on the refugees themselves.


  • The emergence of the illiteracy problem in Lebanon by 7.2% of Palestinian refugees, The enrollment rate for individuals (3-13 years) was about 94%. The percentage of those with a university degree or higher is about 11%.

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