(11 December 2019) Launch of BADIL’s Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2016-2019, 9th Edition

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On BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights launched the Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2016-2018, attended by representatives from various community based organizations, diplomatic missions, international organizations, academics and activists, which including significant youth participation. This is the 9th edition of the survey, a core and essential BADIL research that is produced periodically every two years.

The main findings of the survey were presented: the most up to date statistical and socio-economic data concerning Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); and the results from the questionnaire on the practicality of return which focused on the opinions and perceptions of youth in Mandatory Palestine and abroad.

Since the last survey (8th Edition), the Palestinian people have experienced an ever more repressive and limited space within which to demand and exercise their collective and individual rights. This has been characterized by the rapid advancement of Israeli annexation policies in the West Bank, underpinned by entrenched apartheid policies throughout Mandatory Palestine, and coupled with the renewed attacks on the rights of Palestinian refugees, particularly in the delegitimization of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). It is in this context that BADIL elected to focus this survey on the right of return and its feasibility, recognizing that its denial is one of the root causes of the ongoing Nakba. Conversely, examining the practicality of return and envisioning its implementation is an overlooked approach to resolving the conflict, realizing justice and ending impunity.

Today, 71 years after the issuance of UNGA Resolution 194, the Palestinian people are still facing systematic human rights violations and international crimes perpetrated by Israel including denying them the ability to exercise their inalienable rights, especially return. The survey sheds light on the protection gap that the Palestinian people continue to suffer from, in addition to the Israeli policies and practices of population transfer, annexation and apartheid which affects Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, as well as in exile.

Palestinian refugees and IDPs are still the largest and most protracted refugee population, amounting to 8.7 million out of 13.05 million Palestinians worldwide, constituting 66.7 percent of the Palestinian people.  Out of these, 7.94 million are refugees (registered and unregistered) and 760,000 are internally displaced inside 1948 Palestine.

The questionnaire portion of this Survey focused on the perceptions of Palestinian refugee and IDP youth, specifically those between the ages of 18-29. As many as 81.3 percent of those surveyed stated that they believe return is achievable, 97 percent believe that return is possible for all the refugees and IDPs whom wish to return and emphasizing that return signifies the restoration of their human dignity. The youth made a clear and direct link between exercising return and other basic human rights; in other words, improving social, economic and cultural situations is not a substitute for return, and one would not be sufficient without the other. The youth’s insistence on the application of return is not contingent on their current socio-economic situation, and its practical implementation should not remain subject to what Israel deems acceptable.

Despite the reduced and limited Palestinian discourse on return, the martyrdom and injury of thousands of Palestinians who have tried to exercise return, and the failure of the international community and Arab states to adequately support and implement this right, the resolute belief in the right of return remains the essence of the Palestinian narrative.

The Survey is available in English and will be released in Arabic within the coming months. The main findings of the Survey are detailed further in two brochures, each available in English (general findings and feasibility of return), Arabic and Spanish.

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