Support The Palestinian Right of Return!

CEPAL affirms its position of support for the Palestinian refugees’ right to choose to return to their homeland or to resettle in another country, and to compensation for their losses and suffering. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are urging CEPAL and the international non-governmental community to assist in raising awareness of their rights, especially the right of return.

2008 marks the 60th anniversary of “Al-Nakba” – the catastrophe – that resulted in the first mass expulsion of Palestinian refugees and led to the ongoing suffering of their descendants. In Lebanon, the Palestinians’ exile has been marked by unimaginable violence, most particularly during the 1975-1991 war, with the 1982 Israeli invasion, protracted sieges of Palestinian camps, and massacres, but also more recently with the fighting in Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, which forced the displacement of the entire camp population.

The number of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon is approximately 409,714 today. Currently, Palestinian refugees make up an estimated 10 per cent of the population of Lebanon.[1] Of all the Palestinian communities, the refugees in Lebanon continue to confront the greatest insecurity: Israel will not allow them to return to their homes, Lebanon adamantly rejects their permanent resettlement in Lebanon, the current international peace process effectively ignores them and the continued instability and tensions in Lebanon only serve to further isolate them. They wait in limbo – citizens of no country.

While the general situation in Lebanon is politically and economically precarious for everyone, Palestinian refugees nevertheless remain particularly vulnerable, largely because they face harsher socio-economic and political pressures. Considered foreigners, they are prohibited by law from employment in some 70 trades and professions, they are denied social and civil rights and they have very limited access to health or educational facilities. The majority rely entirely on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as the sole provider of education, health and relief and social services. Over 60% of Palestinian families in Lebanon are living below the UN-established poverty line, and they form a greater percentage of UN-defined “hardship cases” than any other Palestinian community, including Gaza.[2]

Canadians have an important role to play in supporting the Palestinian right of return, which is a crucial element to the achievement of a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. CEPAL urges every Canadian to contribute to this process. You can support Palestinians’ rights and the right of return by:

1) Writing a letter to your Members of Parliament calling on our government to uphold international law and human rights including the Palestinian refugees’ right of return;

2) Provide financial contributions to support CEPAL’s efforts in providing education to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and in raising awareness in Canada;

3) Donate valuable time to assist organizations such as CEPAL both in Canada and overseas.

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