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2009-06-21

20th of July - World Refugee Day

On the Occasion of World Refugee Day this press release was published by
Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights

Palestinian Refugees: A Wound to the Conscience of Humanity that Gets Deeper With Every Year

Occupied Bethlehem, 20 June 2009 - Statistics released by UN agencies on
the occasion of the 2009 World Refugee Day testify to the fact that
Palestinian refugees are the largest and longest standing refugee
population world wide. They lack access to just solutions and
reparations, including return, because Israel and western governments
continue to deny or belittle the scope of the problem and make no effort
to respect and implement relevant international law and best practice.

According to a forthcoming Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally
Displaced Persons for the years 2007-2008 produced by Badil, at least
7.6 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced since 1948 as a
consequence of Israel's systematic policies and practices of
colonization, occupation and apartheid. That figure represents 71
percent of the entire worldwide population of 10.6 million Palestinians.
Only 28.7 percent of all Palestinians have never been displaced from
their homes.

The great majority of the displaced (6.2 million people - 81.5 percent)
are Palestinian refugees of 1948 (the Nakba), who were ethnically
cleansed in order to make space for the state of Israel and their
descendants. This figure includes 4.7 million Palestinian refugees
registered with the United Nations (UNRWA) at the end of 2008. The
second major group (940,000 – 12.5%) are Palestinian refugees of 1967,
who were displaced during the 1967 Arab-Israel war and their descendants.

More attention and concern should be given to the phenomenon of forced
displacement of Palestinians because it is ongoing.

Steadily growing populations of internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs)
are the result of ongoing forced displacement in Israel (approximately
335,000 IDPs since 1948) and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since
1967 (approximately 120,000 IDPs since 1967). Badil's Survey identifies
a set of distinct, systematic and widespread Israeli policies and
practices which induce ongoing forced displacement among the indigenous
Palestinian population, including deportation and revocation of
residency rights, house demolition, land confiscation, construction and
expansion of Jewish-only settlements, closure and segregation, as well
as threats to life and physical safety as a result of military
operations and harassment by racist Jewish non-state actors. Israeli
governments implement these policies and practices in order to change
the demographic composition of certain areas (“Judaization”) and the
entire country for the purpose of colonization.

Data about the scope of ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians is
illustrative and indicative, because there is no singular institution or
agency mandated and resourced to ensure systematic and sustained
monitoring and documentation. The total number of persons displaced in
2007 – 2008 is unknown. UN agencies, however, confirm that 100,000
Palestinians were displaced from their homes in the occupied Gaza Strip
at during Israel's military operation at the end of the year; that 198
communities in the OPT currently face forced displacement; and that
60,000 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are at risk of having
their home demolished by Israel.

The Palestinian refugee question has remained unresolved and forced
displacement continues, because Western governments and international
organizations have been complicit in Israel's illegal policy and
practice of population transfer and have failed to protect the
Palestinian people. Indicators of the severe gaps existing in the
protection of Palestinian refugees and IDPs are seen in the recent
crises in Iraq - where thousands of Palestinian refugees became stranded
on the Jordanian/Syrian and Iraqi borders, Lebanon - where 27,000
Palestinians refugees of the Naher al-Bared camp are still waiting to
return to their 2007 destroyed camp, and Gaza - where over 1,400
Palestinians were killed and 100,000 displaced, most of them 1948
refugees).

On this World Refugees Day, Badil calls upon all those concerned with
justice, human rights and peace to:

Challenge Israel's racist notion of the “Jewish state” and immediately
halt its practices of displacement, dispossession and colonization;
Strengthen the global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS)
in order to ensure that Israel other states become accountable to
international law and respect their obligations;
Improve the mechanism of international protection so that all
Palestinians receive effective protection from, during and after forced
displacement, including the right to return as part of durable solutions
and reparation;
Ensure that the Palestinian refugee question is treated in accordance
with international law and UN resolutions in future peace negotiations,
including return and reparation.

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