Palestinian Refugees in Syria
Official name: Syrian Arab Republic.
Estimated population: 17,155,814
- CIA The World Factbook 2002 http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sy.html
Syria is located in the south-east of the Mediterranean basin. It borders Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Israel. The capital is Damascus and the other main cities are Homs, Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia. Its main ethnic groups include Arabs (90 per cent), Kurds, and Armenians. It is in main part a Muslim country with Sunni Muslims accounting for 74 per cent, Alawite, Shia, and Druze reported to 16 per cent. Christians (of various sects) are reported to account for 10 per cent of the population
Palestinian refugees in Syria
The number of Palestinian refugees in Syria registered with
In most of the
About 26 per cent of Palestinian refugee families live below poverty levels while 22 per cent live on the poverty line
Syria camps profile
http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/syria.htmlReprinted from UNRWA, http://www.unrwa.org
Most Palestinian refugees fled to Syria in 1948 and came from northern Palestine, Safad, Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, and Nazareth. Some refugees arrived in Syria via Lebanon, some came from Galilee and the Hula Valley onto the Golan Heights, and others came directly from Palestine to Jordan to Syria
In 1967, Palestinian refugees fled the Quneitra governorate in the Golan Heights, and around 4,200 of them were housed in Dera'a Emergency Camp
In 1970, as a result of the military campaign known as "Black September", some Palestinian refugees fled from Jordan to Syria. In 1982, in the wake of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, a few thousand Palestinian refugees left Lebanon and found shelter in Syria
Rights and legal status
The legal status of Palestinian refugees in Syria is regulated by the Syrian Arab Republic Law no. 260 of 1957. The law stipulates that Palestinians living in Syria have the same duties and responsibilities as Syrian citizens other than nationality and political rights. In 1960, President Gamal Abdel-Nasser (then President of the UAR) issued Decree no. 28 granting Palestinians in Syria, Palestinian Travel Documents.
In 1963, Law no. 1311 regulated the issuing of Syrian laissez-passer or travel documents to Palestinians residing in Syria, on condition that they were registered with
Palestinian refugees are granted freedom of movement in all parts of Syria.
The Syrian Government has taken strict measures to control the entry of Palestinian refugees with Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi Travel Documents as a precaution against any possibility of their resettlement in Syria
Right to employment
Palestinians do not require work permits, they may work in the government, and men must undertake military service (in the Palestine Liberation Army under the Syrian Command). They have the right to own businesses. They also have the right to join labour unions. Since the time of their arrival in Syria, most of the Palestinian refugees have not had difficulty finding employment, some in the agricultural sector, and the more educated as teachers or nurses. This economic stability is reflected in the high percentage of Palestinians who have found the means to move out of the refugee camps and take up residence as self-settled refugees (about 70 per cent)
Right to education
Although most Palestinians receive their primary and preparatory education at
Restrictions on land ownership/house ownership
Until 1968, Palestinians were not allowed to own any property in Syria. After 1968, this law was changed so that Palestinians were allowed to own one house per person, but they are still not allowed to own farm land
The 1965 Casablanca Protocol, which Syria ratified, stipulates that Arab countries should guarantee Palestinian refugees rights to employment, residency, and freedom of movement, whilst maintaining their Palestinian identity and not granting them citizenship. This is echoed in the Syrian legislation
Access to government services
Syria is the only country in the Middle East, apart from Jordan, in which Palestinians have full access to government services.
The Syrian branch of the General Union of Palestine Workers (GUPW) was founded in 1965. The branch's activities mainly involved participating, with other Palestinian and Syrian Unions, in celebrations or national festivities. In 1971, the union's headquarters were moved to Damascus. However, Syria's 1976 intervention in Lebanon led to clashes between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Syrian military forces in Lebanon, and in 1983, Syria's attempt to control the breakaway
A preparatory committee for the establishment of the Palestinian Women's Union was elected in 1965. Its members consisted mainly of
The Syrian branch of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is located in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus. It runs eight primary health care centres, three outpatient clinics, and three hospitals, and provides services to registered and non-registered Palestinians, as well as to Syrians who are unable to afford health care. The
- PRCS Syria Branch 2003 Overview Report http://www.palestinercs.org/prcsdiaspora/syria.htm
In 1999, ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Office) held talks with the Syrian Government, the Syrian Red Crescent,
Other electronic resources
Human Rights Watch Policy on the Right of Return – Treatment and Rights in Arab Host Countries http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/israel/return/arab-rtr.htm
"Profiles: Palestinian Refugees in Syria" – Dr. Nayef Jarrad http://www.badil.org/Publications/Majdal/1999/4_12.htm
Shiblak, Abbas, "Residency Status and Civil Rights of Palestinian Refugees in Arab Countries" http://www.shaml.org/publications/monos/mono1.htm#Residency Status: A Case of Uncertainty
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