Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Volume VIII: 2013-2015

BADIL Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights (BADIL) has published the Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons since 2002. This edition of the Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (Volume VIII) focuses on Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the period between 2013 and 2015. Unless stated otherwise, statistical data and estimates of the size of this population have been updated in accordance with figures from the end of 2014. This edition of the Survey is unique as it addresses Palestinian refugees’ perceptions and knowledge of international protection of refugees, and that of Palestinian refugees in particular.

Protection encompasses “all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law)”. With respect to refugee protection in particular, protection activities must also include the pursuit of a durable solution to the refugee plight; a solution which amounts to voluntary repatriation, or - where repatriation, being the optimum solution, is impossible - local integration or resettlement. Furthermore, measures to ensure the physical security of refugees must be accompanied by measures which aim to ensure their legal security.

However, a separate and, ultimately, deficient framework of protection applies to those Palestinian refugees who are registered with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and who account for the majority of Palestinian refugees worldwide. This system has resulted in a ‘protection gap’ being experienced by Palestinian refugees, characterized by the continued failure of Israel, individual third states and the international community as a whole to ensure the provision of comprehensive standards of protection to which Palestinian refugees are entitled.

This publication will thus explore the substantive elements of displacement and the methods employed in the displacement of Palestinians – both historically and contemporarily – as well as the international framework of protection for refugees in general, with a particular focus on the framework uniquely applicable to Palestinian refugees. Further, the ‘protection gap’ and its consequent impacts on Palestinian Refugees will be explored throughout the survey, conducted on a sample group of over 3000 refugees from 24 refugee camps.

The need to consider and contextualize Palestinian refugees and IDPs and their protection (or lack thereof) - 67 years since the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) and 48 years since Israel’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip - is derived from the necessity to set the foundations for an international law and human rights-based approach through which a just and durable peace can be achieved. Not only do Palestinian refugees and IDPs constitute the largest and longest-standing unresolved case of refugees and displaced persons in the world today, but their numbers continue to grow in light of Israel’s policies and practices, resulting in more forcible displacement of Palestinians on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line (in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory [oPt]).

This publication provides stakeholders, duty bearers, academics and researchers with a rich resource and, in outlining the situation and framework as it currently operates, unveiling its flaws, and exploring the impact of these failings on Palestinian refugees themselves, contributes to an international law-based approach to the protection of Palestinian refugees.