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Until Return - Issue 1

November 9, 2007

Factsheet: Palestinians in Iraq*

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), thirty-four thousand Palestinians lived in Iraq before 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 occupation.

Many Palestinians in Iraq were either killed, imprisoned, or have been forced to leave.

Many were expelled from their homes and initially took shelter in tents in Haifa stadium in Baghdad.

According to the UNHCR, about 21,000 have left the country since 2003, and only 13,000 remain.

A number of Palestinians who were forced to leave are now stranded in refugee camps on the Syrian and Jordanian borders:

Al-Hol Refugee Camp:

Located on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq.

Originally set up by UNHCR in 1991 to host Iraqi refugees fleeing Iraq after the suppression of the uprisings in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

Currently, 305 Palestinians are stranded in Al-Hol.

Eighteen of nineteen refugees who initially fled Baghdad in October 2005 are now in Al Hol camp. One elderly woman returned to her family in Iraq.

The remaining Palestinians moved to the camp Largely in May-2006.

Legal status - none.

Al-Tanaf Refugee Camp:

Located in no-man's land on the border with Syria.

There are 340 Palestinian refugees who have been stranded in this camp since May 2006. More recently, the camp's population has risen to 437 because Syrian authorities took to the camp 97 Palestinians who had entered Syria from Iraq during the past year with forged documents.

The camp is about 260 kilometers away from the nearest populated area.

About 10% of the refugees need medical treatment, which is not currently available.

The camp residents have so far been taken care of by local area organizations.

The United Nations does not currently provide services to support the residents.

For exclusive photos from Al-Tanaf Refugee camp go to this page.

Al-Walid Refugee Camp:

Located on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria at the al-Walid border crossing.

Established on December 16, 2006, now has 1560 residents with 30-40 persons arriving on a weekly basis fleeing ongoing threats and attacks in Baghdad.

The camp is located in a remote area not far from al-Tanaf camp.

The residents have so far been taken care of by a local area organization.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and UNHCR have provided relief items such as blankets, stoves, plastic sheets, tents and food.

Al-Ruweished Refugee Camp:

Located on the Jordanian side about 70 kilometres from the border with Iraq. It was set up in 2003 and housed Somalis and Iranian Kurds as well as Palestinians and Iraqis fleeing violence in Iraq.

With the exception of the Palestinians, nearly all the refugees who passed through this camp were relatively quickly resettled in third countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. In contrast most of the 148 Palestinians had been stranded in al-Ruweished for more than four years, and, only recently, were they moved to Brazil after having been granted asylum by that country. Some of the children had received no formal education during those four years. Canada granted asylum to 54 Palestinians from this camp one year earlier.

*This Factsheet was prepared by Al-Awda’s West Coast Regional Refugee Support Committee.

Donations: If you wish to direct a donation to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians currently stranded on the border with Iraq, please go to this page and follow the instructions. Please indicate "Iraq Relief" with your submission.



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