Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday met with Fatah members from Lebanon and Syria during Fatah’s 7th conference in Ramallah.
The Syrian delegation informed Abbas of the difficult circumstances faced by Palestinian refugees in Syria, as an estimated 450,000 of the 560,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Syria remain inside the country.
According to UNRWA, two-thirds of Palestinian refugees are internally displaced in Syria, and at least 95 per cent are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees are trapped in active conflict zones, particularly those in Yarmouk and Khan Eshieh camps in Damascus, and Muzeirib and Jillin in Daraa, making it difficult to provide any humanitarian aid to the residents amid protracted government sieges.
Meanwhile, at least 42,000 Palestinians have fled to Lebanon and more than 17,000 have reached Jordan, becoming refugees for a second time since they were first displaced from their villages in historic Palestine during the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Abbas highlighted that the Palestinian people living in Palestine – what is now the occupied West Bank and Gaza – and Fatah members in Syria would offer “everything they can” to lessen the suffering of Palestinian refugees in Syria.
Abbas also met with Fatah members from Lebanon during the conference, they informed him of the situation for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, saying that they were “doing their best” to improve their lives and lessen their suffering.
According to UNRWA, Palestinians in Lebanon have the highest percentage of their population living in abject poverty from among the other countries the organisation serves.
Facing discriminatory employment policies, Palestinians in Lebanon are restricted from working in over 20 professions or claiming the same rights as other non-citizens, while all the refugee camps suffer from overcrowding, poor housing conditions and a lack of infrastructure.
The population of the refugee camps has ballooned since 2011 as Palestinians have fled from the violence in Syria to camps in Lebanon, placing even more pressure on the economic and infrastructural problems in the refugee camps.
Last month, Lebanese authorities sparked international outcry when officials, reportedly with support from Palestinian factions, began to construct a “security wall” – reminiscent of the Israeli Separation Wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank – around the Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in order to enforce calm after recent confrontations between Palestinians in the camp and the Lebanese army.