Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trapped in no man's land

James Denselow, The Electronic Intifada, 21 March 2008
( James Denselow is the communications officer for Medical Aid for Palestinians a UK-based charity that works for the health of Palestinians -- especially in conditions of occupation, displacement or exile -- based on principles of self-determination and social justice)

"In 2006, as Iraq descended into new depths of civil conflict, 350 Palestinian refugees were driven out of Baghdad by targeted violence. They arrived in the desert no man's land between the Iraqi and Syrian border crossings at al-Tanf. The Syrian authorities denied the Palestinians access into Syria, while also preventing any more Palestinians arriving into the no man's land. The worsening violence in Iraq, however, saw the continuing arrival of Palestinian refugees at the border. An estimated 1,740 refugees are now stuck in al-Waleed camp on the Iraqi side. In addition, towards the end of 2007 about 350 Palestinians who previously entered Syria with Iraqi passports were relocated to al-Tanf camp. The number of refugees in al-Tanf has now increased to an estimated 720, 500 of whom are women and children.

For many of the refugees, the trigger for their attempt to leave Iraq was the extreme violence they had suffered. Bereft of a militia to protect their minority status, middle class Palestinians have been frequent targets of brutal kidnapping and ransom attempts. Tisar Abdel Fadi, a forty-year old mother of three, left Baghdad for al-Tanf following her husband's kidnapping. Taken from a hospital, he was subsequently tortured and killed...."

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