This survey "Poll" is considered a key study for Institutions, organizations and researchers interested in the Palestinian cause. It will help decision and policy makers to get a closer look on the views, thoughts and perception of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Syria and Lebanon.
As 60 years passed since the establishment of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the services of this organization are diminishing due to the lack of fund and decreasing support from the donor countries.
Palestinian NGOs are undertaking responsibility to help in ending the crisis and dilemmas faced by Palestinian refugees while donor countries put conditions and impose political blackmail. Such support from these countries link its support with political issues that aim at ending the cause of Palestinian refugees such as the right of return.
UNRWA; a History of Suffering
For the past 6 decades UNRWA has been a witness to the plight of Palestinian refugees as it has documented it by tens of documents and presented it to the United Nations. In the meantime, many unwisely call for terminating the mandate of UNRWA hoping that the issue of refugees could end via minimizing their fund and support. Not to mention the Israeli attacks which targeted the UNRWA premises, schools and warehouses. All this happens while the International community and UN are silent towards these violations and those donors who didn't abide by their commitments towards UNRWA.
It was important to put aside the views of institutions, who can be politically motivated and ask the refugees directly about their experiences, as the UNRWA was established to serve them on the first place while the International community failed to give them their rights and implement the UN resolution 194 which affirms and confirms their right to return to their homes in the occupied Palestine 1948.
The survey was carried out to counter the arguments which aim at ending the role of UNRWA and its services. This survey was carried out in two main locations where Palestinian refugees exist. It's in Syria and Lebanon where a number of Palestinian refugees camps exist. We made sure to carry out this poll in the camps where the legal and living conditions of Palestinian refugees are bleak.
60 Years of Hard Work
In the 60th anniversary of establishing UNRWA, we estimate that it's important to show the perspective of the refugees regarding its performance. To develop a robust scientific method to produce results is the only way to obtain quantifiable data. we have combined and examined the views of people from Syria and Lebanon to come up with unified and accurate results. The Palestinian refugees are the ones who decided consequently we have gathered a summary of their views which correspond to their right of return. The refugee themselves decide what can be in his/her benefit as well as their country what is in harmony with International law which explicitly states that their right is individual/collective indispensable.
Any report must bear in mind that views may be prejudiced by the effects of the current reality experienced by refugees due to political, economical and cultural factors. Opinion polls always reflect external factors and knowing this is crucial for objectivity of any study results. As we look at the conditions of Palestinian refugees who live far from political factors as well as economic and cultural ones this give us an indication about their views on UNRWA with regards to humanitarian conditions. Such views will be coming out very objectively due to their conditions.
The Palestinian Return Center in London, Wajib Association for Right of Return- Syria, Thabit Association for Right of Return- Lebanon all of these are working on the right of return for Palestinian refugees have carried out this study according to scientific standards used in global opinion polls in harmony and in line with the reality of the camps and refugee-populated communities, to contribute in the supporting the UNRWA and to show the views of for Palestinian Refugees in the hope that this endorses their rights and the NGO's that support them. This also to assert that supporting the UNRWA must be unconditional even if its policies are not in consistency with the donors' views and policies. This to ensure that UNRWA remains neutral from International Political arenas and stick to the International humanitarian law and its requirements.
Analytical reading of the Survey
Although the economic and social conditions of Palestinian refugees between Lebanon and Syria are different; the political element remains prevailing and unified. Support for UNRWA is part of a strategy to preserve the Palestinian right of return. Added to that, improving the services and performance of the organization, improving the living conditions of Palestinian refugees are a major concern as it has a direct affect on their lives.
We should not be misguided by the level of income in both areas. In Syria, an overwhelming majority of refugees estimated at 92% have revenue that doesn't exceed $ 500, compared to 77% of the refugees in Lebanon. But the disparity between the two countries in terms of standard of living and purchasing power lead us to the same outputs with little differences on the income; All in all, we concluded that that economical factors are very close in both locations although the Syrian currency, LIRA, is higher than the Lebanese one.
The above introduction was important before coming to the poll results, which shows roughly the same consistent vision for UNRWA It's obvious that the termination of its practical services is associated exclusively with right of return being achieved and all Palestinians are returned back to their original homes from which they were expelled in 1948.
It's not surprising that a majority of the refugees 96% are registered with UNRWA Around 96% of the refugees in Syria and Lebanon are registered with the UNRWA. Despite the overwhelming majority of those registered and according to the second question, do you receive services from UNRWA; we have found that 68% of the refugees in Lebanon and 70% in Syria received assistance and services from UNRWA. This shows a gap between the registered and unregistered refugees who get the support of UNRWA.
Lebanon - Syria
The Palestinian Return Center PRC -London
Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return (Thabit) - Lebanon
Palestinian Return Community (Wajib) - Syria
16th December 2009