The Stateless People

Palestinian refugees from Iraq arrive in Brazil
22 Sept. 2007

BRASILIA (AFP) — A first group of 35 Palestinians who were forced to flee Iraq arrived Friday in Brazil where they will receive government and UN assistance to build their new lives, officials said.

The 35 are part of a group of 117 Palestinian-Iraqi refugees who are making their way to Brazil after fleeing Iraq and seeking shelter in neighboring Jordan following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

“The 35 who arrived Friday are part of a group that lived in the Ruwaished refugee camp in Jordan,” said Luiz Paulo Barreto who heads the government’s national refugee commission.

The others “will probably begin to arrive in October,” he said.

They spent around three years at the refugee camp, according to Luis Varese, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative.

Varese also said authorities did not want to say yet exactly where the Palestinians would make their homes.

“You must understand that these people lost everything. They have suffered a lot, they are afraid and they want to keep a low profile,” he said.

Brazil plans to give them identity papers so they will have the same status as Brazilian citizens. They will be enrolled in Portuguese classes and will receive monthly financial aid until they are able to support themselves, officials said.

An estimated 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and sectarian unrest, according to the UN refugee agency.

Neighbors Syria and Jordan have shouldered the brunt of the burden of Iraqis fleeing the country, with over 1.4 million in Syria and between 500,000-750,000 in Jordan, the UNHCR said.


And their oppressors.

UN rights chief concerned over Israel’s Gaza clampdown
21 Sept. 2007

GENEVA (AFP) — The UN’s human rights chief has expressed her “grave concern” at Israel’s decision to declare the Gaza Strip a “hostile territory,” and its threats to cut off fuel and electricity supplies.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour warned that “the implementation of such measures would impose an unbearable burden on the civilian population of Gaza.”

She reiterated condemnation of “indiscriminate” rocket attacks launched from Gaza, but called on Israel to show restraint and abide by its responsibilities under international humanitarian law.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday that the Jewish state needed to answer what she termed daily “terror attacks” on its soil from Gaza.

The Gaza Strip, home to some 1.5 million people, has been ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since a bloody power struggle with its secular Fatah rivals in June.

Hamas blasted the move as “collective punishment” while the UN Secretary General urged Israel to reconsider.

Cutting supplies “would be contrary to Israel’s obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law,” Ban Ki-moon warned.

Medics in Gaza warned that any move by Israel to complete its blockade of the territory was likely to lead to civilian deaths.


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