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Justice for all refugees

Justice for all refugees

With growing world-wide awareness of the humanitarian tragedy that the creation of refugees inevitably causes, it is timely to remember the plight of the Palestinian people. Palestinians comprise the largest group of refugees in the world and they have endured their suffering for the longest period in modern history. In 2007, the Badil Resource Centre for Residency and Refugee Rights numbered Palestinian refugees at 7.6 million, 4.6 million of whom are UN-registered refugees. UNGA Resolution 194 states unequivocally that Israel has the duty to repatriate those "displaced by the recent conflict" with compensation for their losses. These are the people and their descendants who fled, or were forced to leave by Israeli forces, with the establishment of Israel in Palestine in 1948.

The blockade of Gaza is yet another humanitarian crisis, impacting upon a people of whom more than half are also refugees. While Israel mercilessly enforces its blockade in the tiny enclave, there is no possibility of escape for the terrorised population. The world community has the duty to hold Israel accountable for the relentless suffering it imposes upon the tiny enclave. The Zionist state possesses ample means to rebuild the thousands of homes it has destroyed and our leaders should require Israel to make appropriate reparations by restoring Gaza's water supply and economic infrastructure.

Western interference in the Middle East over the past almost 100 years, from the time of the Balfour Declaration, has resulted in immense instability throughout the region. With this growing flood of refugees coming into Europe, the West is now having to face the predictable and inevitable realisation of the consequences of its actions. Western policy has sown the seeds of chaos and played into the hands of fanatical extremism. It is time that our leaders acknowledged their responsibility for the present suffering by treating all refugees justly and with compassion. The refugee crisis in the Middle East will come to an end only when our leaders learn to respect the people of the region and adopt policies based upon adherence to international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.


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