Living conditions of the Palestinian refugees in Iraq have been steadily deteriorating since the U.S invasion of the Arab country in 2003, Mahmoud Aljamali, coordinator of the Civil Network for Assisting Palestinians in Iraq, told the Palestinian Authority-run International Press Center (IPC)
Palestinians in Iraq are being killed, abducted and denied access to workplaces and schools, while a large number of them have been forced out to border lines, Aljamali tells the IPC.
This situation has created another wave of immigration along with the 1948 Israeli-led expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland of historical Palestine, Aljamali says. He adds: “violence against Palestinians of Iraq increases on a daily basis, as Palestinian inhabitants are exposed to crimes by unknown Iraqi militias”.
The number of Iraq-based Palestinian refugees is estimated at 22,100, according to recent statistical figures published by the United Nations Higher Commission rate for refugees, Aljamal confirmed.
He maintains that this number of Palestinian refugees has decreased considerably to 15,000 to 18,000, in the shadow of continued violence against them. Aljamali points out that over the past four years, killing of Palestinians has been taking place on daily basis, as large numbers of Palestinians have been forced to leave the country at a time when the total number of violations has amounted to 1,739.
As for ongoing efforts to contain the refugees’ crisis, Aljamali stresses that on the ground there have been no genuine Arab, international or Palestinian efforts, adding that all statements and press releases have been mostly verbal.
Aljamali refers to the recent official Palestinian visit to Iraq as ineffective as the Palestinians there have not benefited from such visits, due to the visiting delegations' unawareness of of the real problems.
However, Aljamali does not deny the significance of such visits for being the first of their type, referring to meetings held by Palestinian President’s advisors, As’ad Abdelrahman and Jibril Alrejoub with top Iraqi officials. “Following such meetings, we have realized an Iraqi government’s willingness to cooperate concerning protection of Palestinians in Iraq, however, things on the ground remained unchanged”, Aljamali insists.
Aljamali confirms that the Iraqi authorities and the U.S troops have jointly carried out wide-scale arrests in Palestinian neighborhoods, while the Iraqi police have been reportedly involved in shootouts at Palestinian residential buildings.
A number of refugee camps have been erected along border lines with Arab countries such as Syria and Jordan to ensure safe shelters for traumatized Palestinians who have been forced out of their Iraqi cities and towns due to heightened violence, Aljamali asserts. Aljamali also confirms that his network has requested that the Palestinian Legislative Council holds a special session to discuss the issue and work out a possible solution, while special conferences will be convened by March in Sweden and Norway to tackle the problem.
Aljamali believes that the solution to this problem is evicting all Palestinian refugees from Iraq, but this requires serious moves by other Arab leaders to host these refugees in their own countries.