On World Refugee Day
Palestinian refugees remain the world's largest and longest-standing refugee population after seven decades of forced displacement from and within their homeland.
There are 7.25 million Palestinian refugees in the world, with over 700,000 Palestinians internally displaced.
The second group consists of Palestinians who were displaced from their homes during the 1967 conflict, as well as their descendants, totaling 1.1 million people. The bulk of these refugees live in nations such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, or in the occupied Palestinian territory, which is less than 100 kilometers from their original home country's boundaries (oPt).
Many Palestinian refugees in the Middle East have been particularly vulnerable to the region's ongoing political unrest, which has resulted in widespread bloodshed and war, and they are frequently forced to further forcible displacement. So far, 390,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced from Syria's pre-war population of over 500,000.
280,000 Syrians have fled the country, with over 110,000 fleeing to neighboring countries, becoming refugees for the second or third time in their lives.
The 'gap' in protection that Palestinian refugees face is a defining feature of their position. No UN agency or other governing entity has been assigned primary responsibility for their protection or the search of long-term solutions. The United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), which was established in 1948 for this purpose, has been inoperative for over six decades, leaving Palestinian refugees de facto without international protection.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is mandated to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, which is a necessary intervention and one of the core pillars of international protection, but it can only be a temporary measure aimed at alleviating suffering and should not be considered a substitute for a comprehensive rights-based solution.
Addressing this wholly untenable and unsustainable state of affairs is obviously a matter of extreme urgency, and a just resolution can only be achieved by the international community exerting concerted pressure via all available channels.
As a result, BADIL emphasizes that such collaborative efforts must be based on adopting and supporting long-term rights-based solutions as a long-term strategy for Palestinian refugees; taking effective measures to bring Israel into compliance with international law; and ensuring effective protection of Palestinian refugees and those at risk of forced displacement within Palestine and third-party countries.