Friday, May 15, 2015

Over One Million Nakba Refugees

It's Nakba Day, 2015, the day we remember the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli terrorist forces in 1948-49. That's 67 years of dispossession and refusal by the Jewish supremacist state of Israel of the Palestinian refugees' right of return.

The usual figure given for the number driven from their homeland is 750,000, but Palestinian diplomat and academic, Fayez Sayegh (1922-1980), has argued for a far higher figure.

The following excerpt on the subject comes from his 1952 book, The Palestine Refugees:

"To give an accurate estimate of the number of the Palestine refugees has so far proved rather difficult, partly because of the working definition of 'a refugee', which United Nations agencies had to start from, and partly because of the various technical difficulties encountered in the field. Thus Mr John B. Blandford, Jr, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWAPRNE), states in his Report to the General Assembly, submitted on September 28, 1951:

'One of the first tasks undertaken by the UNRWAPRNE was to organize a census operation to determine who should and who should not receive relief. In spite of these efforts... it is still not possible to give an absolute figure of the true number of refugees as understood by the working definition of 'a person normally resident in Palestine who has lost his home and his livelihood as a result of the hostilities, and who is in need.' If the object had been to establish the true number of Palestinians now in other countries, the results of the census would have been more accurate, but the Agency's mandate was expressly limited to those 'in need'...'

"The authors of the Memorandum under review [The Arab Refugee Problem. How It Can Be Solved. Proposals submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations, December 1951], aware of these difficulties, report the results of various estimates made by either United Nations agencies or Israel sources... although they do not commit themselves clearly to the acceptance of any of the estimates, they seem to have accepted the figure of about 700,000 as a safe working estimate...

"Now the actual number of the refugees, although difficult to estimate with accuracy, is nevertheless an objective fact which is subject neither to arbitrary determination nor to a compromise between varying estimates.

"The statistics of UNRWAPRNE constitute a helpful starting-point. According to the latest report, the refugees registered on the Agency's relief rolls numbered 875, 998. It must be remembered, however, that this figure takes into account only those refugees whose status fulfills the three conditions embodied in the working definition enjoined on the Agency - namely, those who (1) are normally resident in Palestine; (2) have lost their homes and their livelihoods as a result of the hostilities; and (3) are in need. But, even allowing liberally for some duplicate registrations and occasional failures to report deaths, these figures fall below the actual number of the Palestinian refugees, inasmuch as the working definition is too restrictive in scope and leaves out of account three categories of bona fide refugees - namely:

1. Those who have lost their livelihood and become destitute, although they have not left their homes - and who therefore do not fall within the strict definition. There are, according to Mr Blandford, approximately 127,000 of this class (67,000 in Jordan and 60,000 in Gaza), although General Kennedy had reported the existence of some 150,000 of them a year earlier.

2. Those displaced Palestinians who have found gainful means of employment in the neighboring Arab countries and who are not destitute or needy. They are no less 'displaced persons', however, than the more needy refugees. Statistics on refugees of this category are not available.

3. Those displaced Palestinians who emigrated to countries outside the Middle East and who therefore - whether needy or not - are not counted by any of the agencies concerned with the refugees.

"It is evident that, when all these categories of refugees are taken into account, the number will be found to exceed one million. In fact, Mr Blandford speaks, in the forward to his last Report, of 'the crushing burden of a million Arab refugees'." (pp 20-22)

No comments: