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Israel's West Bank Wall forces thousands of Palestinians out of their homes - report

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GENEVA, 26 September 2006 - Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes as a direct result of the Wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank, according to a study published today by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. In East Jerusalem alone, tens of thousands of people have been forced to change their place of residence as a direct result of the construction of the Wall, concludes the study which for the first time comprehensively documents displacement caused by the West Bank Wall in the Jerusalem area.

"The ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities is alarming not only because of the suffering of those directly affected, but also because of its longer-term effects on the fabric of Palestinian society", said Jens Mjaugedal, Director of the International Department of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"Given Israel's unwillingness to reverse the disastrous effects of building the wall, the international community must finally act, and it should recognise the problem of internal displacement in the Palestinian territories. This would be an important step towards providing better assistance and protection to the displaced", said Karine Mac Allister of BADIL, one of the authors of the report. The study reveals that 17 per cent of those who changed their place of residence in recent years did so as a direct result of the construction of the Wall. Restriction of movement and access to services and basic goods resulting from the construction of the Wall has been the most important factor inducing forced displacement in East Jerusalem. Close to 90 per cent of households on the eastern side of the Wall are cut off from health services in the centre of Jerusalem.

The study shows that the Wall also causes serious disruptions in Palestinian family life: over 20 per cent of households have been split since the beginning of construction in 2002. The study suggests that the number of internally displaced Palestinians is likely to grow further: as many as 64 per cent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem are considering changing their place of residence.

Palestinians have undergone several waves of forced displacement since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. The Wall and its associated regime currently is by far the main cause of forced displacement in the West Bank.

The report recommends that the international community recognise the problem of internal displacement, apply the IDP category to the Palestinian context and develop an effective response, in order to prevent further forced displacement and remedy displacement afflicted in the past. It also calls on the international community to promote durable solutions for displaced and dispossessed Palestinians and to ensure voluntary return, restitution and compensation.

The full report titled "Displaced by the Wall: Forced Displacement as a Result of the West Bank Wall and its Associated Regime" is available at www.internal-displacement.org and www.badil.org.

For more information, please contact Elodie Guego, NRC Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva, +41-22-795 07 38, or Karine Mac Allister, BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Bethlehem 972-2-274-7346 or 277-7086.

The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading international body monitoring internal displacement worldwide.

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights is a Bethlehem-based non-governmental organization promoting protection of and durable solutions for Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons.

Full text of report (pdf* format - 3.5 MB)