Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) - Generally, the term Palestinian refugee refers to those Palestinians who were displaced from their places of origin in British Mandate Palestine (today Israel and the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory) and are unable to exercise their basic human right to return to their homes and properties.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic health, education and relief services, has a working definition of Palestine refugees. This definition, however, does not fully encompass the range of Palestinians displaced by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; it only includes 1948 Palestinian refugees who are entitled to register for assistance with UNRWA.
Who is a Palestinian internally displaced person or IDP?
Internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, and violations of human rights, and who have not crossed an internationally-recognized state border.
Most of the refugees of the 1948 Nakba (Arabic for ‘Catastrophe’) were displaced to Arab states and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which until Israel’s 1967 occupation were under Jordanian and Egyptian control, respectively.
But at the end of the war, some 150,000 Palestinians remained in the areas of Palestine that became the state of Israel. Around 40,000 of these were internally displaced.
Like the approximately 800,000 Palestinian refugees who were displaced beyond the borders of the new state, Israel refused to allow these IDPs to return to their homes and villages.
Internal displacement of Palestinians continued following the establishment of Israel. IDPs who had returned spontaneously to their villages, and Palestinians who had not been displaced during the 1948 war were expelled. Israeli officials also transferred Palestinians from one village to another within the borders of the state in order to facilitate colonization of these areas. In the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, more Palestinians have been displaced as a result of war, house demolition, revocation of residency rights in Jerusalem and construction of illegal Jewish settlements, as well as the Wall and its associated regime.
How many Palestinian refugees and IDPs are there in
It is difficult to give exact numbers of Palestinian refugees and IDPs because no comprehensive registration has ever been undertaken. Available global estimates rely on partial registers of UN agencies, research information, census data released by host countries, and estimates by Palestinian communities themselves. Today it is estimated that there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees and IDPs. This number includes:
► 4.5 million Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 andregistered for assistance with the UN Relief and Works
► an estimated 1.5 million Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 but not registered for assistance;
► 950,000 refugees displaced in 1967;
► an estimated 338,000 internally displaced Palestinians
in Israel; and
► an estimated 115,000 internally displaced Palestinians
in the OPT.
In total, the Palestinian refugee population comprises approximately three-quarters of the entire Palestinian population worldwide, numbered today at some 9.8 million. Palestinian refugees are the largest single group of refugees in the world; in fact almost two in five refugees are Palestinian.
The number of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA (UNRWA refugees or registered refugees) is often and incorrectly cited as the total Palestinian refugee population. Many refugees were not registered with UNRWA either because they did not qualify for assistance or because they had been displaced to countries where UNRWA does not provide assistance.
Other refugees, such as IDPs who are citizens of Israel, were subsequently dropped from UNRWA’s registration system. The refugees displaced in 1967 and as a result of subsequent hostilities, while they may receive emergency assistance from UNRWA, were never registered as UNRWA refugees.