On World Refugee Day suffering continues for Palestinian stateless in Norway

Dana Mahmoud – WNN Opinion

Palestinian camp outside Jakob Church of Culture in Oslo, Norway
This is the scene of a camp outside the Jakob Church of Culture in Oslo, Norway set up by displaced Palestinians in 2011. Image: Prisoner’s Family & Friends Association

(WNN) Oslo, NORWAY: Dear World, I’m writing an open letter to you on the world refugee day. It might be my only chance to voice my concerns on how refugees are being treated in 2012, and letting you know what we refugees are suffering from and how does it feel being one for generations. It’s an appeal to your conscience. I hope this will change something and somehow will end our tragedy or fix our status.

The 20th of June marks the international refugee day, which is celebrated by the international community. It’s the day where the world remembers refugees; examine their latest problems and challenges and proposes viable solutions. Refugee as defined by the dictionary as “a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc…”  falls under the responsibility of the international community, represented by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). But who are these people really? they must be bigger than a term in the dictionary, there are little children among them, helpless women and broken

Men and women who each and every one of them has a story that is worth telling and knowing. This is what the world sometimes tend to ignore, and they tend to ignore the individuality of their pain. They are the vulnerable people who came seeking protection from wars, prosecutions or even statelessness.

Some have become refugees recently, due to military conflicts. Some have been born with this title and have inherited this status from their ancestors. A perfect example of this are the Palestinians who are one of the massive displaced groups since 1948.

Dear World, being a Palestinian refugee is a challenge by itself. Palestinian refugees should think every day about whether they will be able to secure their next meal or not; or whether they are going to be allowed to live in this country or that; or whether they’ll suddenly find themselves forced to leave their home region like the ones who used to live in Iraq for the past 60 years and suddenly found themselves not welcome there. Are they able to send their children to schools or will their children end up getting a job at the age of 13 to support the rest of their family?

Sadly education for Palestinians might seem pointless in countries like Lebanon for example, where Palestinians are prohibited to work in so many jobs that it takes pages to list them.

Dear world, I don’t know how long you are going to keep your salience when it comes to Palestinian refugees and do nothing to fix their situation. After all they have been in this situation for the past forty six (46) years. And in some cases they have been displaced for nothing more than just ‘being’ Palestinian.

Dear free world, this doesn’t only happen in the Middle East. It also happens in your very own backyard: in countries like Norway the human rights’ nation, as they would like to portray themselves to the rest of you, where Palestinian children, women and men are left to die slowly in the asylum receptions (‘temporary’ detainment centers).

Many are stuck between the new asylum laws forced on Palestinians by the Norwegian immigration authorities and between not having  a domestic law to implement the 1954 stateless convention. They die slowly as rejected asylum seekers, getting minimal economical support every two weeks that can barely cover their food expenses. They continuously feel there is no hope and no future, no reason to keep living.

Yes, today in 2012 statelessness in Norway is still not a place that protects or for accepts a person as a refugee!

Can I tell you about the little Neda who is now 10-years-old? She is a Palestinian from Iraq who arrived in Norway when she was 1-year-old. In 2003 she and her family began living in Norway’s asylum reception (‘temporary’ detainment center) system. But the time there has taken the majority of her life. Yes she has had 9 years in an asylum reception center in Norway. Today there is no way in for her and no way out. Her family can’t be returned to Iraq, but yet they’ll not be accepted by Norway.

Heba is another example showing the treatment Palestinians are getting from the Norwegian immigration authorities. She is a young 22-year-old stateless Palestinian girl from Iraq who used to live in the Emirates, and who also arrived to Norway after being stateless. She was only 17 when she first arrived in Norway full of dreams and high hopes. Now she suffers from severe depression because she can’t study. She can’t work. And no county would accept her or her 60-year-old-mother. Yet she is also not accepted in Norway.

Yes, this is all happening in Norway and not in a country that is located in the middle of the third (and developing) world. And yes, you are watching and you are doing nothing about it.

I only hope this letter will shake something inside you and make you want to do something to stop the abuse practiced against Palestinians and against refugees in general…Have a happy Refugees’ Day all. Hopefully by next year no refugees will be left weak and vulnerable!

Best regards,

Dana Mahmoud

(Dana is a stateless Palestinian refugee, who has also been undocumented in Norway for the past three and half years.)

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