Brief History of the Palestinian Refugee & Internally Displaced Persons Issue
Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs) represent the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today. On the 60th anniversary of the Nakba (or ‘Catastrophe’), the destruction of Palestine and the massive displacement of Palestinians by Israel in 1948, two out of every ﬁve refugees in the world are Palestinian. At the beginning of 2007, there were approximately seven million Palestinian refugees and 450,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), representing 70% of the entire Palestinian population worldwide (9.8 million).
Palestinian refugees include those who became refugees following the ﬁrst Arab-Israeli war in 1948 and the second Arab-Israeli war in 1967, as well as those who are neither 1948 nor 1967 refugees, but outside the area of former Palestine and unable or unwilling to return owing to a well-founded fear of persecution.
The largest group of Palestinian refugees is made up of those who were displaced or expelled from their places of origin as a result of the Nakba. IDPs include Palestinians who were displaced within Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Internal displacement continues unabated in the OPT today. Thousands have been forcibly
displaced in the Jordan Valley as a result of closure, home demolition and eviction orders, and the threat of displacement hangs over those who remain. Similar patterns of forced displacement are found in Israel, where urban development plans for the exclusive beneﬁt of Jewish communities are displacing indigenous Palestinian communities in the Naqab (Negev) and Galilee.
Palestinian refugees in host countries are also vulnerable to forced displacement. For instance, as a result of the US-led aggression and occupation of Iraq since 2003, persecution has forced over half of the approximately 34,000 Palestinian refugees residing in Iraq to leave the country. Over 31,000 people were displaced from Nahr al-Bared camp in Lebanon in 2007 and most have not returned.
Six decades after their initial forced displacement from their homeland, Palestinian refugees and IDPs still lack access to voluntary durable solutions and reparations (which include return, restitution, compensation) based on international law, UN resolutions and best practice.
~ Badil, Research Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights