IPSC Statement on Palestinian refugees in Syria: Stop the attacks, implement Right of Return
Over the past week Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Damascus have been attacked by Syrian government forces. The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) condemns these attacks, calls for their immediate cessation, and calls upon both sides in the Syrian conflict to respect the internationally protected status of the Palestinian refugees and the refugee camps.
It now appears that many refugees are fleeing the camp, becoming refugees for a second or third time. Concerned that the situation for Palestinian refugees may deteriorate further, the IPSC calls upon both the government of Syria and rebel forces to respect the neutrality of the Palestinian refugees and requests that the Irish Government seek assurances from both sides that the UN mandated refugee camps remain protected demilitarised spaces.
This current crisis for Palestinians in Syria is only one in a long and recurrent series of crises that have plagued Palestinian refugees since their expulsion from their homeland in 1948. The IPSC recalls that since 1970 Palestinians refugees have faced attacks, discrimination and displacement from Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya and Iraq.
The IPSC deplores that no effective international action has been taken to protect and implement Palestinian human rights in line with agreed upon international resolutions and declarations. In this particular case, the Palestinian right of return enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 which states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so”, and Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Only the implementation of these agreed upon measures can finally end the chronic insecurity to which Palestinians in the diaspora are subject and provide the basis for the achievement of a lasting, secure and peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The IPSC emphasises that the Palestinian right to return to their homeland is an inalienable human right held by individuals and so cannot be negotiated away. Nevertheless, despite the right of return remaining the central demand of Palestinian refugees, Israel has blocked this right for 65 years, has no intention of implementing this right, and is in clear breach of its international obligations in this regard.
Furthermore, recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises that the realisation of “inalienable rights” is the only basis “for freedom, justice and peace in the world”, the IPSC asks that the Irish Government, in accordance with these legally binding human rights obligations, support the establishment of a just and secure peace based on the Palestinian right to return to their homeland.
Therefore, in light of the current crisis for Palestinian refugees in Syria, and recognising that effective protection for Palestinian refugees in Syria and elsewhere can only ultimately be secured by the realisation of their right to return home, the IPSC calls on the Irish Government:
· to seek an immediate end to attacks on Palestinian refugees in Syria;
· to seek guarantees of safety for Palestinians refugees caught up in the ongoing Syrian conflict;
· in the long term to bring pressure upon Israel to negotiate a just peace based upon international law and including the right of Palestinians refugees to return and live in their homeland as equal citizens.