According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relief agencies, several hundred Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes in Iraq are now stranded in no man’s land on the Syrian and Jordanian borders.
Al-Hol and Al-Tanaf camps, located on Iraq’s border with Syria, consist of makeshift tents. The camps have become the home of 655 displaced Palestinian men, women and children who continue to languish there under extremely difficult conditions. Another camp, Al-Walid, was just established recently to house an additional 41 Palestinians, all of whom were forced to leave by militias loyal to the US-backed Iraqi government.
Al-Tanaf camp with its 350 residents is located in a remote area about 260 kilometers away from the nearest populated area. The only services the camp receives is provided by local area organizations whose access to the camps may be limited at any time. About 10% of the refugees in Al-Tanaf need urgent medical care which they are not receiving.
In Al-Ruweished refugee camp, which is located on the border with Jordan, there are 148 Palestinians caught in a similar untenable situation. Some of Al-Ruweished’s residents have been there for close to three years. Most of the children in the camp have been denied education during that time.
Largely as a consequence of their expulsion from their own homeland by Zionists upon the imposition of the state of Israel in 1948, thirty-four thousand Palestinian refugees lived in Iraq prior to the American invasion in 2003 . Many have since faced harassment, threats of deportation, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Palestinian neighborhoods such as al-Hurriyya and al-Baladiyyat in Baghdad have been bombarded and attacked ever since the US occupation. Many Palestinians were expelled from their homes and initially took shelter in tents in Haifa stadium in Baghdad. Others were either killed, imprisoned or have been forced to leave. According to the United Nations, a total of about 19,000 Palestinians have left Iraq since 2003, and only 15,000 remain.
The Syrian and Jordanian authorities have thus far refused entry to the Palestinian refugees currently stranded in Al-Hol, Al-Tanaf, Al-Ruweished and Al-Walid refugee camps.
Here is how you can learn more and help out:
We call on all people of conscience to do the following:
1. Contact the US Department of State to demand that the American occupation forces in Iraq put an end to anti-Palestinian attacks. According to the Geneva Conventions, the US is obliged and expected to protect all civilians in areas it is occupying by force.
Write and call Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at
2201 C St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
2. Write and call the Syrian embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask that the stranded Palestinians on Syria’s borders be admitted into Syria without delay.
H.E. Imad Moustapha, Ph.D.
Ambassador of Syria to the U.S.A.
The Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyoming Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
3. Write and call the Jordanian embassy in Washington, D.C. and ask that the Palestinian refugees stranded in Al-Ruweished camp be admitted into Jordan without any further delay:
H.E. Ambassador Karim Kawar
Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: 1-202-966- 2664
4. Write and call the Iraqi “embassy” in Washington, D.C. and demand an immediate end to the persecution of Palestinian refugees in Iraq.
Embassy of Iraq
Fax: 1-202-462-5066; 1-202-462-0564
5. Write and call United Nations offices in New York and demand that:
Write and Call
H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan
The Secretary General of the United Nations at:
UNRWA Liaison Office, New York
Chief, Liaison Office - Maher Nasser
One United Nations Plaza, Room DC1-1265, New York, NY 10017, USA
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.