Palestinian and Jewish refugees, UNHCR, UNRWA and the law of return
The whole situation in Gaza is disturbing as most inhabitants are helpless to the airstrikes and mortar fire and have little or no place to hide during the attacks. Traditionally in war people can flee to another country and seek asylum. Protection for refugees is guaranteed by international law and regulated by the UNHCR (The UN High Commissioner for Refugees).
However, the situation for Palestinians is different. In general they are not protected by the UNHCR but by UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). The situation is different as we don't seem to hear of 1000s of Gazans crossing into Egypt to seek asylum. Why is this? Is this because of tightly controlled border by Egypt? Is this the failure of the media to report the news? Is it because people are happy to stay in Gaza and not flee? Is it because it is safer to stay in ones home than risk fleeing in the open especially as F16s are bombing the tunnels on the Egyptian border?
My general question:
In the short term - until statehood is decided - what is the cost and benefits of UNHCR or UNRWA protection for Palestinians? For example if Palestinians could use the UNHCR would this allow greater number of people to find asylum in other countries in the Middle East or Western countries? Which situation would be better for Palestinians to be guaranteed protection by UNHCR or UNRWA? Or a combination of the two?
My specific questions are
(A) Palestinian refugees
1. Where have Palestinians fled to seek asylum since the recent attack?
2. For example how many Gazans have been able to flee the region and sought asylum in Egypt, Cyprus or Israel since the recent conflict?
3. How does UNRWA inhibit or promote the ability for Palestinians to seek asylum in another country other than Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank or Gaza?
4. For example given, Palestinians in general fall outside the 1951 Refugee Convention, what opportunities do Palestinians have in other countries outside the UNRWA mandate to seek asylum?
5. What proportion of people have fled Gaza since 2000 and made successful asylum seeker claims?
Palestinian refugees and UNRWA
Palestinian refugees and UNHCR
(B) Jewish refugees
As a way to understand how Jewish refugees are offered protection by international law.
1. What proportion of Jews fleeing persecution in North Africa and the Middle East found asylum under the UNHCR or found asylum through Israel’s law of return (1948-present)?
(C) Final comment
Feel free to post any personal experiences on this topic eg Given the latest violence in Gaza, interaction with UNRWA or stories of flight from the Middle East or North Africa
Can members who comment please do their best to be creative and supportive