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Palestinian refugees commemorate 68 years of displacement as their situation worsens

Date Released: 05 May 2016

Palestinians and their supporters in Ireland will commemorate the 68th anniversary of Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) Day on 15th May with a speaking tour by two human rights defenders from BADIL, a Palestinian refugee rights organisation, based in Bethlehem and Geneva. Nakba Day marks the brutal displacement and exiling of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland to facilitate the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Hosted by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), Lubna Shomali and Nidal Al-Azzah from BADIL will speak at events in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Derry and Belfast on the current situation of Palestinian refugees – of whom there are now an estimated five million - including those in Syria since 1948.  Over 520,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria before the outbreak of the civil war and it is now estimated that only 200,000 remain. Ireland took in nine Palestinian refugees from Syria in 2016 amidst a crisis in which Palestinians have become refugees for a second, sometimes even a third time, by fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon and Europe.

Under international law the UN has a duty to protect the refugees and they have a right of return to their homeland. This right has not been upheld by the international community, a fact that only exacerbates the current plight of Palestinians fleeing the Syrian conflict. As Palestinian refugees are a special case they are not under the protection of the UNHCR. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have recorded hundreds of cases of forced deportation back to Syria, with Jordan and Lebanon  turning them back on arrival or placing them in separate refugee camps with even worse living conditions. This means most of the Palestinians fleeing Syria must head for Europe if they possibly can.

Speaking in advance of the tour, IPSC Chairperson, Fatin Al Tamimi said, “As Ireland deals with the current refugee crisis, the history of Palestinians who have lived with a refugee crisis for 68 years should be explored.  We know the effect which war, discrimination and displacement has on a nation and our story needs to be told and to be heard. The Palestinian right of return to our homeland is inalienable, yet has been denied us for almost 70 years. It’s beyond time for action to make our rights a reality.”

The BADIL tour, which includes an exhibition of photographs chronicling the ongoing Nakba of Palestinian refugees, will be in Ireland from Monday 9th to Saturday 14th May and talks will be held in Cork (Mon 9th, Quay Coop at 7pm); Limerick (Tues 10th, Pery’s Hotel); Dublin (Wed 11th Academy Plaza Hotel at 6.15pm).  Further details are available on www.ipsc.ie.

About BADIL

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. BADIL is a Palestinian human rights organization established in 1998, dedicated to defending  and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), regardless of their geographic location, according to the frameworks of international  humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

About the speakers

Nidal Al-Azza is Director of BADIL and human rights defender who has been working with BADIL since 2006.

Lubnah Shomali is BADIL’s Administrative and Financial Affairs Manager.  

They will present BADIL’s comprehensive rights-based approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with a focus on forced population transfer, refugees and internally displaced persons, according to international humanitarian and human rights law.


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