Background

A Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon

Nearly 2 million Palestinians live in official (UNRWA) refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank and a further 700,000 live as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Their situation is an ongoing struggle. Palestinians in Gaza live with the Israeli blockade, which prevents employment, freedom of movement, trade and the delivery of aid. It restricts the delivery of medicine and education, and separates families and friends.

The standard of living for the majority is poor, with violence a constant threat. Despite international laws, Palestinians have to watch Israeli settlers build homes and increase an armed presence in territories that are interntionally acknowledged to be Palestinian.

Outside the Occupied Territories, the situation for Palestinian people is little better. Many are now the grandchildren of those who fled Palestine in the 1940s and have never seen ‘home’ for themselves.

In countries like Lebanon, Palestinians are still classed as ‘refugees’ and live in sprawling makeshift camps. They are denied the chance to vote, to own property and access to services, and the opportunity to work in key trades and professions.

The ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees overseas is at the heart of debates about the future of the Middle East.

This issue is seen as a ‘political’ one, but the abuse of human rights and the one-sided nature of the conflict has been reported by a huge variety of independent sources, including NGOs and the United Nations.

Amnesty International says: It is several years since the outbreak of the latest uprising, or intifada, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have effectively collapsed. The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has deterioriated to an unprecedented level.

Oxfam adds its voice to the calls for action: The conflict in the occupied Palestinian Territories continues to deny ordinary people their basic human rights. Oxfam believes that Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories should be ended as an essential step towards peace and to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.