The Journal of Palestinian Refugee Studies continues to shed light on the situations of Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora. With UNRWA’s strength waning, funds dwindling, and very existence under threat, it is of utmost importance that the Palestinian Return Centre gives voice to the voiceless Palestinian refugees around the world. Therefore, the theme of this edition is to offer insight into the conditions of Palestinian refugees in Egypt and Iraq, which fall outside of the UNRWA mandate. A number of writers offer different takes on the situations of Palestinian refugees in those two countries, covering their history, living conditions, and the protection gaps they are forced to endure.
Mohammad Wesam Amer is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Newcastle University. His article ‘Palestinian Refugees in Iraq: Unsteady Situations,’ introduces the lives of Palestinian refugees in Iraq. Amer looks at the history of Palestinians seeking refugee in Iraq, their numbers, legal status, and contrasts their favourable living conditions during Sadam Hussein’s regime, to the sectarian violence that they faced from the Iraqi government and militia groups following the US-led invasion.
Nasim Ahmed in ‘The Plight of Stateless Palestinians Should Not be Forgotten’ reiterates the importance of respecting the rights of stateless people and minority communities. Ahmed cites the sectarian violence endured by the Palestinian refugees in Iraq following the US invasion and sheds light on the struggles of Palestinian refugees doubly displaced from Iraq into Syria, following the invasion.
Brennan Baylis has an MA in African Studies from SOAS, her academic and profession experience focuses on refugees, particularly those from Africa’s Great Lakes Region and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In her article, ‘Protection Gaps and Border Camps: The Forgotten Palestinians in Iraq,’ Baylis critiques the current Iraqi government for failing to protect Palestinian refugees. She also discusses the protection gaps resulting from the UNHCR, UNRWA mandates and argues that Palestinian refugees in Iraq cannot benefit from UNHCR properly as they cannot enjoy UNHCR’s three principle long-term solutions. She concludes her article by offering numerous suggestions on how to improve the vulnerable situations of Palestinian refugees in Iraq as well as those stranded at its borders.
Ibrahim Naem is a Palestinian freelance journalist and translator. In ‘Iraq War and Sectarian War against Palestinian Refugees in Iraq: Detention and Torture of Palestinians in Iraqi Jails’ Naem provides evidence of the human rights violations and crimes perpetrated by US troops, sectarian militias and Iraqi security forces against the Palestinian refugee community including arbitrary detention, killing, and torture. Naem believes that the Sunni Palestinian refugees are made to pay the price of every attack against the Shia majority.
Alaa Barghouth is a Palestinian journalist and researcher. His article: ‘The Iraqi Palestinians: A Historical Review’ offers a concise account of Palestinian refugees’ living situations in Iraq, the human rights violations which they suffer from not only in Iraq but also in the countries that UNHCR has resettled them into such as Italy. Barghouti concludes by urging relevant parties to pressurise the Iraqi government to ensure its protection of Iraqi Palestinians. He also stresses the importance of the PLO’s role in protecting Palestinian refugees.
Hannah Bowler previously worked as a researcher for the Palestinian Return Centre. In ‘The Suffocation of the Gaza Strip: the Protracted Closure of the Rafah Crossing and its Impact on Building a Successful and Self-sustaining Society’ Bowler argues that the unlawful blockade has created dependence on the Rafah crossing that links Egypt and Gaza. Bowler believes the erratic history of the crossing, and its incessant closure has undermined the prospects of establishing a stable state, developing economically, and creating a thriving cultural society due to the effects the world’s largest open-air prison has on stifling ambition and perpetuating feelings of hopelessness and defeat.
Finally, Laila Taha is a freelance Palestinian journalist and writer from Gaza. Her article on ‘Palestinians from Egypt’ discusses naturalisation issues, specifically those related to Palestinians born to Egyptian mothers whom were naturalised but later on had their citizenship revoked. Taha believes that granting Egyptian citizenship to Palestinian refugees born to Egyptian mothers will help facilitate their lives in Egypt, and would provide a means of escaping war for those Gazans who succeed in obtaining the citizenship.