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|Palestinian Refugee Camp|
Sept. 5, 2015
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to build international pressure on Israel to allow Palestinian refugees seeking asylum into the occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestinian Authority official news agency Wafa reported Saturday.
Abbas reportedly directed the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyadh Mansour, to work with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon toward "appropriate and necessary action" to allow Palestinians refugees displaced by conflict in foreign countries to take refuge in the territory.Abbas told Wafa that allowing refugees to return to the occupied Palestinian territory was not only a humanitarian mission, but also a right of every Palestinian refugee.
Wafa reported that Abbas' office "has been making contacts with the UN, EU and other relevant actors, urging them to pressurize the Israeli government to allow Palestinian refugees back into the oPT."
Palestinian refugees living across the Middle East are among millions severely affected by conflict in Syria, Iraq and parts of Lebanon.
While the Palestinian population in Iraq has fallen by more than two thirds since the US-led invasion in 2003, the Palestinian population has seen further devastation in Syria's four-year conflict.
According to Palestinian legal rights group Badil, as of April, around 80,000 Palestinian refugees had fled Syria, while of the 480,000 Palestinians remaining, 280,000 were internally displaced and 95 percent were in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
According to the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria, a rally took place in May where Palestinian refugees in the country demanded that the Palestinian leadership take them out of war-torn Syria and "bring them back to their homeland Palestine."The action group says that at least 228 families, consisting of 884 Palestinian refugees, fleeing Syria were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip between Feb. 2011 and Oct. 2014.
The right of return for all refugees is guaranteed by international law under the Geneva Conventions.
Up to 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in modern-day Israel during the 1948 war, and today their descendants number approximately five million, spread across the world.
However, Israel, which disputes the Palestinian right of return, has tightly controlled Palestinian borders since it occupied the territory in 1967.
In late 2012, Abbas called on Ban Ki-moon to help Palestinian refugees in Syria return to the occupied territory, but with no result.
The issue of refugees has come to international attention in recent weeks, with thousands of asylum-seekers making the treacherous journey by land and sea to Europe.