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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Palestinian refugees suffering in Syria

I was saddened to read the BBC's report of UNRWA being unable to reach suffering Palestinians living in the southern Syrian city of Deraa, including people who urgently need medical supplies including insulin. Although, sadly, none of this is a surprise for anyone who knows much about Syria. Why, after living in Syria for so many decades (including being born there in many cases) are half a million Palestinian refugees still living in camps, instead of being allowed to become Syrian citizens if they want to? My grandparents came to Britain as refugees and were allowed to become naturalised British citizens, rather than being confined to barracks with their British-born children and grandchildren, forbidden to naturalise. Why, when all of the world's other refugees are helped by the UNHCR, which works to resettle them and rebuild their lives, does the UN have a special agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees (including people who were not refugees themselves, but are the children and grandchildren of refugees), which maintains these people's refugee status, instead of helping them to end it? Could it be because, as a former UNRWA official, Sir Alexander Galloway, said as long ago as 1952:
The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die.
Remember Black September and King Hussein's slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in Jordan? Here is one interesting contribution to the complicated debate about the Palestinian refugee problem and its origins: read it,  read other things and make your own mind up.

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