The organisation for Palestinian refugees and their right of return, Thabet, has expressed grave concern that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has deleted 169,000 refugees from its records for 2011. Thabet condemned the move.
In a statement sent to Quds Press, the organisation explained that the statistics at the beginning of 2011 noted the details of 4,797,724 registered refugees, whereas the records for 2010 had included 4,966,664. The details of 168,940 registered refugees are missing. Thabet said, "The names of 19,219 refugees from Lebanon, 9,024 refugees from Syria, 19,886 refugees from Jordan, 211 refugees from Gaza and 121,023 refugees from the West Bank have been removed."
The organisation described this as "a strange phenomenon occurring for the first time since UNRWA was founded in 1949, as the agency has had a census of refugees every year since 1951." The statistics have always referred to the growing number of refugees who get registered every year in its five areas of operation (Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Syria), said Thabet. "There has never been a time when we've witnessed a decline in the number of registered refugees."
This is "dangerous", claimed Thabet, and questioned the reasons and timing of this change: "What has happened to those thousands of 'missing' refugees?" It has demanded that UNRWA clarifies this matter and justifies it's publication of the data. It also called for urgent action to uncover the background to this unprecedented reduction and the implications for Palestinian refugees and their right of return".