BETHLEHEM, (Badil)-- Twenty-five years since the massacre of Palestinian refugees committed by Lebanese Phalange militias with the complicity of Israel's army controlling the area in the camps of Sabra and Shatila, Palestinian refugees remain without protection and the search for rights-based solutions to their plight.
Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) are the largest and longest-standing unresolved case of refugees and displaced persons in the world. In 2006-2007, there were appoximately 7 million Palestinian refugees and 450,000 internally displaced Palestinians representing 70 percent of the entire Palestinian population worldwide (10.1 million). The legal status of some 400,000 additional Palestinians is unclear, but they too are likely to be refugees. The forced displacement of Palestinians, both refugee and non-refugees is ongoing in the OPT and Israel as well as in some host countries, in particular in Iraq and Lebanon.
Displacement in 2006-2007 occurred as a result of Israel's war on Lebanon (16,000 refugees displaced), the events surrounding the destruction of Nahr el-Bared camp (31,000 refugees displaced) in Lebanon and the persecution faced by Palestinian refugees in occupied Iraq (over 15,000 refugees displaced). These recent events highlight the lack of protection of Palestinian refugees and the need for rights-based durable solutions.
Right-based solutions are not, however, on the agenda of the international 'peace conference' to be held in November. This conference will likely not address the root causes of the conflict; hence, perpetuating the conditions which have led to the massacres and the forced displacement of Palestinians. In the absence of a search for durable solutions based on their right to reparations, including return and restitution, on the part of much of the international community and the United Nations, Palestinian refugees and internally displaced have ensured their own protection by attempting to effect these rights by themselves.