Nakba, which translates to disaster in Arabic, is known by Palestinians as the period during and following the 1948 war with Israel, in which Palestinians were displaced from their homes and territory. The Israeli government characterizes its 1948 war in Palestine as a defensive action in the face of growing Arab aggression, which Israel argued was needed to protect its statehood.
According to figures by the UNRWA (United Nations Relief Agency, there are currently more than 5.1 million registered Palestinian refugees spread throughout the Middle East including Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and, Syria.
As of 2011, the UNRWA placed numbers of Palestinian refugees residing in Syria at 526,744. These refugees are spread throughout twelve camps (the UNRWA lists 18,658 registered refugees in the Jaramana camp, the 1948 photograph used as this post’s featured image.)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for international peace talks before the end of the year between the twenty-six nations in attendance at a conference held in France in June to discuss the peace process between Palestine and Israel.
On July 14, 2016 the UNRWA issued a press release condemning Israel’s latest demolition in the West Bank (an action that re-displaced 43 Palestinians, including 25 children.)
The Palestinian refugees have been at the mercy of international treaties, wars, policy and politics in what is nearing three-quarters of a century as talks between others (on their behalf) continue.
But the Palestinian refugees of Syria are unique in that these refugees are protected under the 1951 Refugee Convention, in which the rights of displaced refugees were recognized by 144 nation states. The 1967 Protocol upheld these rights, including the right for displaced persons not to be returned to a homeland where the refugee might face persecution, death or the loss of liberty.
As the Palestinians refugees of Syria are currently, in their displaced state as refugees in camps within the Syrian state, at risk of persecution, death and liberty were they to remain; and, as they face these same humanitarian conditions were they to be returned to Gaza or the West Bank, it seems, sixty-eight years later, these men, women and children are no closer to home.
Featured image: Nakba 1948 Palestine Jaramana Refugee Camp. Damascus, Syria. By Unknown – hanini.org, Public Domain.