Half of Palestinians are refugees, report shows

Half of Palestinians are refugees, report shows

Half of Palestinians are refugees, report shows

Palestinians lighted candles and marched to commemorate the‘Nakba’ (catastrophe), the creation of Israel and the exodus of 760,000 of Palestinians from their homes. AA photo

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) announced yesterday that almost half of the Palestinian population consists of refugees, as Palestinians and Arab Israelis marked the May 15 “Nakba” (catastrophe), the creation of Israel and the exodus of 760,000 of Palestinians from their homes.

Refugees constitute 44.2 percent of the total Palestinian population in Palestine, according to the PCBS’s report, which was released on the 65th anniversary of the event of the Nakba. The report based on statistics from the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), showed that there were 5.3 million Palestinian refugees registered in mid-2013, constituting 45.7 percent of the total Palestinian population worldwide. Some 59 percent are living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, 17 percent in the West Bank, and 24 percent in the Gaza Strip.

These estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, given the presence of non-registered refugees. These estimates also do not include Palestinians who were displaced between 1949 and the 1967 war, according to the UNRWA definition, and do not include the non-refugees who left or were forced to leave as a result of the war in 1967. The number of Palestinians who remained in their homeland in the 1948 territory after the Nakba was estimated at 154,000 persons, whose numbers have now grown to 1.4 million.

The report also revealed that the number of Palestinians worldwide has increased eight-fold in the 65 years. It was 1.37 million in 1948, but by the end of 2012 the estimated world population of Palestinians totaled 11.6 million. According to statistics, the total number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine by the end of 2012 was 5.8 million.

‘We will never give up’

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza yesterday the May 15 anniversary of the Nakba as Israel celebrated 65th anniversary of its foundation.

The dispute over the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled and that of their descendants remains at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Sirens wailed at noon in the West Bank for 65 seconds, the number of years since 1948, the Associated Press reported. Thousands marched in Ramallah from the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the city center. Many wore black in a sign of mourning, holding Palestinian flags and large keys symbolizing the homes they left behind. “The right of return will not die,” chanted the protesters.

Smaller protests were held in Gaza, which has been under control of the militant Hamas group since it ousted Palestinian Fatah forces in 2007. About a thousand marched to the U.N. headquarters in Gaza City.

“We shall return. We will never give up or compromise over our land,” chanted the marchers, members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions.

President Mahmoud Abbas addressed his people in a televised speech on May 14, saying the Palestinian cause earned international acceptance last year with the U.N. effectively recognizing a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“We won the support of the world,” Abbas said, adding that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians had been “condemned internationally.”