London – December 21th 2016
The Palestinian Return Centre launches its latest report titled:
“Palestinians in Egypt: Assessing the Impact of Egyptian State Policies and Regulations on Palestinian Refugees”
Former Egyptian prime minister infamously said in 1948 : “Work [would] make Palestinians forget their homeland”. This quote perfectly symbolises Egypt’s attitude towards its Palestinian citizens ever since the Nakba.
This report sheds light on the largely uncovered situation of the over 70,000 Palestinian refugees currently residing in Egypt. It is intended to provide a general overview of the Palestinian community in Egypt, a forgotten community that continues to face discriminatory laws and practices on a day-to-day basis.
This study analyses the state policies and measures that ultimately result in protection gaps, outright denial or heavily regulated access to legal status, mobility, employment, education, government services and property ownership. It is apparent that existing protection gaps are the result of Egypt’s unwillingness to ensure the rights of Palestinians refugees. An example of this unwillingness is demonstrated in the deliberate exclusion of Palestinian refugees from a number of international conventions and UN-related agencies, including protection and assistance from the 1951 Refugee Convention or agencies such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The report also examines the precarious situation of Palestinians from Syria in Egypt who are especially vulnerable to serious protection gaps. The state does not allow Palestinian refugees from Syria to register with UNHCR, referring to Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Also known as the “exclusion clause” contained in the first paragraph of Article 1D, it stipulates that Palestinian refugees do not fall under UNHCR’s mandate in areas where UNRWA provides protection or assistance, like in Syria. But because they do not receive the UNRWA services while in Egypt, Palestinians in fact fall under the competence of UNHCR. There have been reports of Egyptian authorities engaging in deporting, prospecting, and even coercively forcing refugees to leave the country. The precariousness of statelessness for Palestinians seeking refuge is a product of the state’s unwillingness to implement human rights conventions and international customary principles.
The report concludes with recommendations addressed to the Egyptian state, urging authorities to respect the human rights of Palestinians and ensure their access to basic civil rights and social mobility.
To download the report please click here