Embassy: Syria crisis has "devastating impact" on Palestinian refugees

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Palestinian women, who had been living at Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, wait outside the Lebanese immigration authority to have their papers stamped at the Lebanese-Syrian border, in al-Masnaa December 18, 2012. Reuters / Jamal Saidi

Published Friday, December 26, 2014

Around 1,300 Palestinians have been killed since 2011 in war-torn Syria, the Palestinian Embassy in Syria announced on Thursday, adding that the fate of an equivalent number of Palestinians was still unknown.

The Embassy said the numbers revealed "the devastating impact of the war on the lives of Palestinian refugees" in Syria, a country that was long considered as one of the most integrated and receptive host countries for those expelled from their homeland, now referred to as "Israel," by Zionists.

The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation to Syria Ahmed Majdalani stressed that the estimated number of Palestinians killed since 2011 in Syria was debatable, saying that while some estimates put the number at 1,000, the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon puts it at a high 1,300.

According to the Palestinian Embassy in Syria, only a small number of the 2,200 Palestinians held in Syrian jails were arrested for their involvement in the armed conflict.

Majdalani pointed out that during the initial stages of the "crisis," Palestinians in Syria remained relatively uninvolved.

However, the turning point was when militant groups moved into Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, directly involving the camp in the war and jeopardizing the lives of Palestinians there.

The Yarmouk camp quickly became a haven for groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, al-Nusra Front.

According to Majdalani, the militants’ take over and the long siege led to hundreds of deaths, many from starvation, adding that the death toll decreased considerably after the armed militants were defeated and forced out of the camp earlier this year.

The Palestinian camps in Syria, especially the Yarmouk camp, have been subject to many contested narratives from both sides of the conflict.

In January, Al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin questioned the Palestinians’ role in the so-called Syrian conflict: Can any Palestinian explain the secret of this great enthusiasm to topple the Assad regime? Whose interests are they serving by destroying Syria?

Moreover, prominent journalist Sharmine Narwani argued that Palestinians were dragged into the Syrian conflict, reluctantly, after terrorist groups strategically took over their camps.

The presence of these groups had led to a siege by the Syrian army and allied forces, which Narwani said included Palestinian factions fighting to take back their camps.

Moreover, thousands of Palestinians either fled Syria and became refugees once again in neighboring countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, or, with the help of the PLO, moved to three newly-built refugee camps across Syria.

The more dire reality, Majdalani continued, was that many refugees were lost in sea after they, driven by desperation, fled the region through illegal means.

Palestinians from Syria represent a high majority of thousands who died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, along with many Sub-Saharan African nationals as well as Palestinians from Gaza Strip.

The Syrian conflict closing into its fourth year has killed more than 200,000 people and prompted millions to flee their homes.

Prior to the conflict, up to 600,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria. The UN's Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA) estimates that more than half have been forced to leave their homes in Syria due to violence in the country.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes inside Occupied Palestine during the 1948 exodus (Nakba) that led to the creation of the State of Israel, and today their descendants, around five million, are spread across the world.

Moreover, about 100,000 of those who fled to Syria were forced yet again to relocate in the ethnic cleansing of the Golan Heights by Israel in 1967.

A smaller number fled the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and took up residence in Syria.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

After 64 years the 1948 refugees have not been integrated into Syrian society?(or any Arab country for that matter) who's fault is that?13 refugee camps in Syria alone.Syria has killed more Palestinians than Israel ever did.Syrian regime loves the Palestinians .... dead.Tel al-Zatar massacre 1976, PLO Tripoli defeat 1983, War of the Camps 1985-89 to name a few.You can put blame on Israel for the Naqba but accept that Palestinians through out the Arab and Muslim world are undesired.You love them from a far. You hypocrites.

I agree completely with your comment.
The Palestinians are only useful for propaganda.

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