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This Sunday, an Israeli airstrike in Gaza destroyed several homes, killing 42 Palestinians, including 10 children. The attacks damaged 35 schools while most of them temporarily sheltered displaced families who fled their homes due to heavy violence. As announced by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, “the fighting has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis” and to foster extremism — “not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel but in the region as a whole”.
Till now, over one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized UNRWA Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. And this number continues increasing as the world sees no end of this new round of intense bombardment. Although Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes from which they were displaced is well established in international law, the reality tells another story. At the same time, they have never received compensation for the loss of their land and property.
Life is not easy as a quasi-permanent refugee, plus their rights vary from one to another hosting country. For example, unlike in Jordan, where nearly 95% of all Palestinian refugees have been given citizenship and can participate in Jordanian political and economic life, the Lebanese government has been reluctant to grant Lebanese citizenship to the Palestinian refugees. Most registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are suffering from getting access to their fundamental rights such as education, health, employment etc. The situation got worse when the global pandemic happened in 2020, where the U.N. has declared Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are three times more likely to die with COVID-19 than the population as a whole.
For the past few years, Peaceland Foundation has been seeking to build resilience for communities and families to maintain their lives and livelihoods through our women empowerment programmes. Located in Shatila and Burj Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon, our Lebanon office provides educational and economic opportunities to women and girls. We also successfully established a commercial channel for them to sell their hand-made goods to China.
However, refugee camps cannot and should not be anyone’s home. We call for the long-term right-centralised resolution by all stakeholders. No men, women or children should be evicted from the homes where their families have lived for generations. No one should be deprived of their fundamental human rights and dignity.
Author: Ling Li