Palestinian refugees calling for help

Palestinian refugees calling for help

Al Waleed Refugee Camp in Iraq, near the Syrian Border.

By Laila Ahmad – June 9, 2012 - via DFLP.-Not only have Iraqis suffered from the calamities of the sectarian violence which targeted their security and displaced them from where they are living. This conflict has also targeted the Palestinians living in Iraq several decades ago, where many Palestinians were either killed or kidnapped, in addition to many others who were forcibly displaced. They found nothing other than moving away from the residential areas and living in the desert in tents instead of living in houses, seeking for security and tranquility to avoid the risks of the threat that target them directly.

I met by chance a group of Palestinian inhabitants of al-Waleed Camp while they were making routine medical examinations needed for immigrating to Europe and America by the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The Palestinians talked about their suffering in Al-Waleed Camp and how they preferred to live in it to save themselves and their families from the risk of death at the hands of the armed groups.

Jamil Ahmad Mahmoud, a Palestinian born in Iraq in 1955, whose family, like other Palestinian families, chose Iraq as a haven in 1948.

Mahmoud had spent his life in Baghdad in al-Bladiyat area before armed grouped evacuated him. Like many other Palestinian families, he was rescued from killing by the U.S. forces and moved to Al-Waleed Camp.

They are suffering now from difficult circumstance due to the reduction of aid and the closure of many medical clinics. Rations have been stopped by a government decision in preparation for closing the camp. Mahmoud confirms that the Palestinians in al-Waleed Camp have been deprived of studying and they are suffering from psychological symptoms.

Mustafa, 23 years, living in Al-Waleed Camp 6 years ago, spends his time playing football with his friends. He is unaware of his future. He expressed his pain for being unable to continue his studies.

The Palestinian Fahed Al-Tarawneh has been living with his family for six years. He lived a well-off life in Haifa street. He talked about the conditions of the residents of the camp amid the dust of the desert and the harmful insects in the absence of the simplest basic necessities of life. The nearest health center was 170 km away from the camp.

A woman in Al-Waleed Camp talked about the conditions of life there, and how her children had been deprived of education. Um Khalid complained of chronic diseases threatening her life. She appealed to the Iraqi government to facilitate their going out of Iraq through the UNHCR for the sake of their children’s future.

Jamil Ahmad Mahmoud confirms that since the last visit of the parliamentary delegation, the procedures of their migration have started again by the UNHCR. Mahmoud and other Palestinian families strongly reject to return to Baghdad in case the efforts of immigration fail. Those people find difficulty to return to Palestine. They have nothing other than the identity card they are holding.

It is to be noted that Al-Waleed Camp is located in Al-Tanf near the Iraqi-Syrian borders. It was set up after the escape of the Palestinian refugees from Baghdad towards the Syrian borders in 2003, but they were not allowed in. More than 450 thousand Palestinian refugees, in addition to Kurds and Arabs from Ahwas are in living the camp. The Iraqi government decided to evacuate it and move its residents to Baghdad to live in places not identified yet.

The Ministry of Migration follows up accommodating those migrants. The deputy minister, Salam Al-Khafaji confirms that the ministry branch in Anbar continuously visits them and inquires about their problems. They are encouraged to go back to Baghdad.

Al-Araji confirms that a decision to move to Baghdad and Mosel has been made in coordination with the UNHCR, but the residents of the camp are afraid of going back because of what they had suffered from the insurgents before. So, they prefer to remain at the camp rather than go back despite the harsh conditions.

Karima Al-Jawari, member of the committee of the displaced considers the Palestinian, Kurd and Iranian residents of the camp included in the fourth Geneva Convention, although Iraq is not a signatory member. But the norm is that the convention is applied by all states.

Al-Jawari revealed that the residents of the camp had been subject to many violations by the Iraqi government and Iraqi citizens when they were in Baghdad, and the ministry of interior is trying to return them to Baghdad despite the risks that might face them.

The House of Representatives formed a parliamentary committee comprising members of the human rights committees. The committee visited Al-Waleed Camp, looked into the conditions of its residents, listened to their proposals and came up with recommendations to quickly deport them outside Iraq to get in line with their demands.

Al-Jawari confirms that the committee of the refugees is in a continuous contact with the High Commissioner in order to facilitate the migration of Al-Waleed Camp residents and rescue them from the harsh living conditions they are experiencing in the camp.

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