Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Palestinian Refugees of Iraq

BY Rafeef Ziadah. March 10, 2007

On the border between Iraq/Jordan and Iraq/Syria today live hundreds of Palestinian families who fled the US war to find themselves stranded in no-mans land. These families live in tents, in squalor, with little certainty or hope for the future, like their parents and grandparents did after their expulsion from their own homeland in the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) by the Israelis. The Al-Hol, Al-Tanaf, Al-Ruweished and Al-Walid refugee camps in the Iraqi desert are examples of the on-going Nakba that Palestinian refugees face. The fate of the 34,000 Palestinian refugees who once lived in Iraq can be added to the many tragic stories of the US invasion and occupation of that country.

There are Palestinian refugees all over the world, and every one of them is being denied their right to return to their homes and villages from which they were expelled. This is a right that cannot be cancelled and a right that doesn’t have a statute of limitations. And while Palestinians continue to demand their right of return, other rights – to safety, to freedom of movement, to work and shelter and food – are violated as a matter of routine. The names of Palestinian refugee camps have become references to massacres and crimes committed against the Palestinian people: Sabra and Shatila (Lebanon), Jenin (West Bank), Rafah (Gaza) and today we add Al-Tanaf, Al-Hol, Al-Walid and Al-Ruweished.

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