Friday, February 2, 2007

Syria: Give Refuge to Palestinians Fleeing Threats in Iraq

US and Other Countries Should Help Resettle Refugees

"Syria should immediately reopen its border to Iraqi Palestinian refugees fleeing deadly attacks against their community, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the international community, and the United States in particular, to provide financial assistance to Syria to help it host the Palestinian refugees, and to share the burden of this refugee problem by offering third-country resettlement opportunities to Palestinian refugees in Syria.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government, Palestinian refugees in Iraq have increasingly become targets of violence and persecution, with abductions of scores of Palestinian men in the past week. In recent months, Shi`a militant groups have murdered dozens of Palestinian refugees and have repeatedly leafleted Palestinian neighborhoods threatening further killings unless the Palestinians leave.

The Syrian government, however, has refused to allow the Palestinians entry into the country, leaving the refugees stranded at the border. Hundreds more are expected to attempt to make the journey.

It’s hard to understand why Syria has provided refuge to nearly a million Iraqi refugees but is shutting the door on hundreds of Palestinians also fleeing Iraq,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian government’s mistreatment of these Palestinian refugees contrasts sharply with its declarations of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Under customary international law, Syria has a legal obligation not to return refugees to persecution or serious harm, and to allow asylum seekers fleeing widespread human rights abuses and generalized violence to enter the country, at least temporarily, to be screened for refugee status. Human Rights Watch urged Syria to abide by its legal duty to admit immediately the stranded Palestinians at its border.

Consistent with respect for the right to return, Israel should respect requests by the UNHCR to allow those Palestinian refugees from Iraq with origins in Gaza to return to the Gaza Strip.

Finally, Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government and the US-led Multi-National Forces in Iraq to take immediate steps to improve security for Palestinian refugees in Iraq and end discriminatory and abusive practices by Iraqi officials......"


More hypocrisy from a cynical and despicable regime.

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