Palestinian Refugees Prevented from UNRWA Services in Turkey

Palestinian Refugees Prevented from UNRWA Services in Turkey

Palestinian refugees are unable to access vital services in Turkey. (File photo via social media)

Palestinian refugees in Turkey are denied access to relief services by the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on claims that they fall outside of the Agency’s fields of operations.

Palestinian refugees, particularly those fleeing war-torn Syria, are unable to access vital services as legal aid and protection in cases of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The dire socio-economic situation has increased their vulnerability.

Turkey, while party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, maintains the geographical limitation only to people originating from Europe. Despite this limitation, it provides non-European refugees with protection and temporary asylum, pending UNHCR’s search for durable solutions elsewhere.

Displaced Palestine refugees in/from Syria are increasingly exposed to protection threats including from ongoing fighting and other brutal consequences of the conflict.

Palestine refugees are leaving Syria by unsafe routes to Turkey and often risk their lives by placing themselves at the mercy of sea traffickers in an attempt to reach Europe. Their protection needs are exacerbated in Syria’s neighbouring countries. The uncertainty about their legal status bears a series of consequences in education, health, access to various services and freedom of movement, among others.

Over 120,000 Palestinian refugees have fled Syria and are facing new vulnerabilities in the receiving countries, with many living in constant fear of arrest and deportation back to Syria. Tight restrictions on the entry of refugees to neighbouring countries have pushed thousands to risk their lives by seeking protection beyond the region.

Human rights groups continue to urge UNRWA and UNHCR to live up to their direct and operational role advising the Turkish Government on the protection of individual asylum seekers and work with the Turkish authorities to ensure that asylum seekers reach safety, are not detained, subject to refoulement and have access to the procedures for temporary asylum.

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