The Palestinian exodus: The ongoing tragedy

MENWER MASALMEH
Published 03.06.2015 23:57

In the time that the Palestinians are marking the anniversary of their exodus from their homeland of al-Nakba in 1948 and al-Naksa in 1967, they are still living in its repercussions, pains and new experiments of exodus. Although the bitterness of the uprooting from the land is still in refugees' throats, the scourge of another uprooting from refugee camps in the contiguous countries was a new and full-fledged catastrophe. The profound events in the Arab region throughout the past decades made things worse for Palestinian existence in exile by dispersing refugees in many overseas countries.

The latest tragedy for Palestinian refugees has been the Yarmouk camp, which is suffering like the Syrians because of the savagery of President Bashar Assad's regime. For more than 180 days the camp was under a severing and complete blockade where more than 90 people starved to death, not to mention the barrel bombs that were dropped on the camp and artillery shelling. What the first generation of refugees suffered in 1948 and 1967 is similar to what is going on for the next generations in the camps, which were supposed to be temporary places until the day of return. In a new trial to flee from the daily worry of certain death to a hoped-for survival, many Palestinian refugees experienced another departure on the Mediterranean to either live in another diaspora community, which would be a "double diaspora," or die from drowning, and that would be the end of their diaspora and their lives together.

Palestinian refugees in Iraq are another story of the second exodus. No sooner was the war in Iraq finished than the sectarian conflict fervently started and the Palestinians there found themselves in the midst of hatred and historical grudges. New camps had been settled on the Jordanian-Iraqi borders, such as the Rwashed and Waleed camps, under stark circumstances in lieu of living under the threat of persecution and homicide in Iraqi cities. The deteriorating situations of human aspects had been increasing for years before the resettlement of around 15,000 refugees took place where they were dispersed in many countries of Europe and South and North America.

The situation of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is no better than elsewhere - on the contrary. Apart from redundant discussions about the civil war and its collateral damage in which thousands of Palestinian refugees had been killed in horrific massacres, the human misery for the refugees in Lebanon is the worst. Under the pretext of refusing the resettlement solution or what might lead to resettlement, Lebanese authorities deprived Palestinian refugees from their fundamental rights, which are, of course, not political ones. What we mean here are the human and civil rights that have been guaranteed in international conventions to achieve dignity and humanity for everyone. In this vein, the list of prohibitions and deprivations includes not only the bans imposed by Lebanese authorities like those on possession, free business and free construction and building, but also the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has a large responsibility for the deteriorating in education levels and chances. However, these miserable conditions do not contribute to keeping refugees' eyes on their homeland and support their refusal of the resettlement solution as the Lebanese authorities allege. On the contrary, these conditions may force refugees to think of another temporary country to settle in until the day of return. The improvement of these conditions then is the suitable solution in favor of the return issue that keeps refugees close to their homeland.

The extended tragedy for Palestinian refugees since 1948 is hard to be summarized with key events as it is interspersed and dispersed in the daily detailed events of every single refugee. The longer you are a refugee and away from your native land, the more you suffer, and that is what is being seen in every refugee story. Thus, the suitable solution for the refugees issue should not accept resettlement and restitution, which are just a political solution that does not finish the human misery of millions of refugees. The issue before anything else is a human issue and will not be solved unless we cling to the right of return and insist on the implementation of U.N. Resolution 194.

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