Seeking Asylum - Palestinians and Jews - where can they find refuge?

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

Thank you

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Replies to This Discussion

(A) Palestinian refugees

Stewart wrote: "Palestinians in general fall outside the 1951 Refugee Convention,"

Yes. Why is that so? Why is that "Of the 100 million refugees since World War II, the Arab refugees from Israel are the only refugees who have intentionally not been absorbed by or integrated into other societies of their own people. Jewish refugees from Arab lands found refuge in Israel or elsewhere. (About 630,000 Arab refugees left Israel in 1948. There were about 700,000 related Jewish refugees from Arab lands.)" What is so special about the Arab refugees from Israel (the Palestinian refugees)?

Stewart wrote: "what opportunities do Palestinians have in other countries outside the UNRWA mandate to seek asylum?"

Because of the existence of UNRWA, Palestinians have some universally unique privileges. Under UNRWA all descendants of all original Palestinian refugees are UNRWA refugees. Under other international refugee conventions, no other people are so blessed.

(B) Jewish refugees
Jewish refugees have always been just ordinary refugees under international law and conventions. Israel’s law of return (1948-present) has no international relevance. It applies to Israel only and is as legitimate as internal immigration law as that of any other nation's (such as Australia's) internal immigration law.
Paul, you said:

'Because of the existence of UNRWA, Palestinians have some universally unique privileges. Under UNRWA all descendants of all original Palestinian refugees are UNRWA refugees. Under other international refugee conventions, no other people are so blessed.'

How are they blessed? Do you know how hard it is for any Palestinian to go to any other country? Egypt even has a completely separate division dealing with Palestinians in Al Mugama, the place to go to apply for visa's.
Alliyah wrote: "Do you know how hard it is for any Palestinian to go to any other country? Egypt even has a completely separate division dealing with Palestinians in Al Mugama, the place to go to apply for visa's".

Yes, I am aware. And like you, I am disgusted by that and other manifestations of the special treatment of Palestinians, especially by other Arabs.

Alliyah asked: "How are they blessed?"

My use of the word "blessed" was ironical, very ironical.

In practical and real terms,I see all those special treatments really as significant impediments to a solution of the many genuine past and current issues of the people now commonly known as The Palestinian People.
First UNRWA is organization that help palestinian to live in there land not consider to help them to leave there land or camps on it , just give them food water and help them to get eduction and health ,
UNHCR is organiztion help any refugee n any where in any time except palestinian are not in there list .why no cause .
Arab countries and islamic countries they did not accept us and they will not open border if we are burn by israel . as we see what happen in last war with israel at the end of 2008 , egypt not open border for life or dead even not allow enter mediction those are worst than israel , israel can not allow to us because there army around gaza and killing every one try to reach there border ,even they killing people carry wight falg

also there is no organiztion help palestinian to get claim .we know the cause . the want to relocation in arab states ,and those refuse for democrties reasones
Dear Ahmed.

Yes. UNRWA exists only to support "Palestinian Refugees". Most employees of UNRWA are "Palestinian Refugees". No UNRWA ==> No jobs (at UNRWA) for those employed by UNRWA.

Arab and Islamic countries seem to not care about "Palestinian Refugees".other than their usefulness as cannon-fodder against the Jews of Israel.

I think that main element in this Arab and Islamic countrys care about palestinian refugees is quite much linked many times heard slogan that "Jordan is home of palestinians". I guess that some part of this originates from this, and some part may be that they don't want palestinians to become as part of their population if palestine/israel conflict will ever be solved.

Is UNRWA any different that UNHCR ? Yes it is. Palestinians have some sort of special "status" in UN, but that has no mystical reference. Since british decided to hand palestine issue to UN in 1947, it continues to be UN duty until palestine issue is solved.
Hi Mika,

Here I think that I am just adding to what you wrote...

I think that after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, technically, Palestine became a League of Nations responsibility that League of Nations delegated to The British. Before and during that time all sorts of people made all sorts of promises to all sorts of people.

Jordan gave Citizenship to Palestinians. But it is backtracking on that partly because the Palestinians (now) say that they do not want that. The British just walked away from their mandate in 1947partly because of the problems and partly because they felt that The Arabs would win the most probably resulting war. All that the UN could do is to try to make peace, and if that failed, to accept or ignore the results of a resulting Civil War.

The Jews declared a State with boundaries unspecified. The Palestinians did not declare a State. Most members of the UN (NOT THE UN) then accepted (without approving) the existence of Israel as the The State of the Jewish People. Note: That is NOT (a religious) Jewish State..

The UN cannot solve the problems. Only the people who live in the area can. Until the Palestinians declare a State, their welfare is technically the UN's responsibility. Because of the control Israel has over the West Bank, Israel also has significant moral and ethical (and possibly legal) responsibilities.
In matter of fact, mandate was creation of britain, not leaque of nations. Some has argued that this mandate system was more like a new colonialism form, than really helping or creating new states or guidance. And yes indeed, britain give guite mixed promises to all sort of peoples. Some backround here :

Jordan give citizenship palestinian refugees because its one of obligations to ensure health, legal assistance etc. to refugees. Which would be needed done same manners in other arab states that have palestinian refugees.
Hi Mika,

Please read what I underlined below from the document you cited that technically Britain DID NOT create the mandate but merely accepted the responsibility: :

2. It was decided at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 that the mandates system, outlined in article 22 of the covenant of the League of Nations should be applied to the non-Turkish portions of the Ottoman Empire. The Mandate for Palestine was assigned to the United Kingdom by the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers at San Reno on the 25th April, 1920. Shortly afterwards, on the 1st July, 1920, the military regime was replaced by a civil administration under a High Commission. The northern frontier of Palestine was determined in accordance with an Anglo-French Convention of the 23rd December, 1920, and its eastern frontier by virtue of the recognition, in 1923, of the existence of an independent Government in Transjordan.
Read this :

The public mind, he thought, might have misunderstood the powers of the League of Nations and of its Council regarding mandates. Mandates were not the creation of the League, and they could not in substance be altered by the League. The League's duties were confined to seeing that the specific and detailed terms of the mandates were in accordance with the decisions taken by the Allied and Associated Powers, and that in carrying out these mandates the Mandatory Powers should be under the supervision--not under the control--of the League. The League possessed the necessary organisation for obtaining the fullest information as to the method in which each Mandatory Power was carrying out its duties.

Maybe i put my words little only to british hands, when it should be WW1 allied states.

A mandate was a self-imposed limitation by the conquerors on the sovereignty which they exercised over the conquered territory. In the general interests of mankind, the Allied and Associated Powers had imposed this limitation upon themselves, and had asked the League to assist them in seeing that this general policy was carried out, but the League was not the author of it; the duty of the League, which was a most responsible and difficult one, was first to see that the terms of the mandates were in conformity with the principles of the Covenant and, secondly, that these terms would, in fact, regulate the policy of the Mandatory Powers in the mandated territories.
Ok. In practical terms I agree. :-)

I think this what the sequence was:
  1. The winners of WWI had de facto powers over the lands they controlled.
  2. The winners of WWI and others formed the League of Nations.
  3. The League of Nations was ceded responsibility for deciding what would happen to the lands of the "losers" of WWI
  4. The League of Nations was then formally created (rubber stamped?) the various Mandates..

Yes. The US, Great Britain, and France were then the real powers (who really just had to be "respected").
1. Where have Palestinians fled to seek asylum since the recent attack?
Steward do your research....Gaza is almost hermetically sealed......
By Mubarak on the Egyption side..... the Zionist entity on the Israeli Side....
They cant even get in or out by sea because of the Zionist pirates.....

2.look at the above......"the region and sought asylum in Egypt, Cyprus or Israel " after reading this i really have to ask if you know anything at all....The last thing Israel wants is 1.5 million Gazans in the country would totally upset the demographics....

3, Until the zionist entity forced their way into Palestine this didnt happen... of Jews fleeing persecution in North Africa and the Middle East



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