.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

EU expands definition of PalArab "refugees" beyond UNRWA's

From the EU Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection website:

Palestinians in Lebanon: In 2012 ECHO continues its assistance to around 100,000 Palestinian refugees, which is almost 40% of the Palestinian refugee population living in Lebanon. With €5 million, the aid ensures shelter, safe water and sanitation, access to secondary health care, psychosocial support, protection and legal aid. Particular attention is paid to those refugees who do not receive aid from UNRWA and other organizations, especially those living in the 42 unofficial 'gatherings', and those lacking the legal status to benefit from UNRWA's aid programme.
Who are these Palestinian Arab "refugees" who do not receive aid from UNRWA?

From their 2012 report:
Refugees non registered and with no IDs: In addition to the registered refugees, an estimated 35,000 non-UNRWA registered and 3,000 non-identified Palestinians live in Lebanon without any official means of identification. The absence of an appropriate legal status and protection has put these refugees in a situation of extreme vulnerability.

This means that, according to the EU, there are some 38,000 Palestinians who do not qualify for aid by UNRWA, but are considered "refugees."

But the very definition of a Palestinian refugee is one who falls under UNRWA's mandate!

The only reason that Palestinian Arab "refugees" retain their anomalous status of being defined as refugees even though they do not fit the criteria listed by the 1951 Convention on Refugees is because of the loophole written specifically for them in article 1, paragraph D:
This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection or assistance.
That meant that those receiving aid from UNRWA in 1951 were considered refugees even if they did not meet the other criteria listed in the Convention. That disconnect has gotten orders of magnitude worse as UNRWA's "working definition" of refugees expanded to include descendants and did not establish any criteria for losing refugee status.

These 35,000-38,000 people do not fit even under UNRWA's expanded definition of "Palestinian refugee," therefore they are not refugees.

They are stateless, however, because of Lebanese bigotry against Palestinian Arabs and refusal to allow people born on Lebanese territory to become citizens, but they are not refugees by any legal or UN definition of the term.

No doubt they need help and the EC is doing a service by providing it to them, but the EU is doing them a disservice by referring to them as "refugees". If it cared about them more than about the fear of Arabs complaining to them, the EU would be pressuring Lebanon to give citizenship to these stateless people - people who are in their current situation because of Lebanese actions.

But to this humanitarian organization, politics is more important than finding a true solution.