Ruwayshed Palestinians arrive in Brazil today

Briefing Notes, 21 September 2007

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 September 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

This morning, 35 Palestinians who have been living for four years in the isolated Ruwayshed desert refugee camp in Jordan, are expected to arrive at the international airport in São Paulo, Brazil. They are the first group of some 100 Palestinians for whom a solution has been found in Brazil.

They left the camp yesterday, an emotional moment for many who in recent years had nearly given up hope for a normal life. The Palestinians, who had fled Iraq, have faced extremely harsh conditions in a dusty and scorpion-infested desert camp with nowhere to go. In recent years UNHCR has repeatedly appealed for a humane solution for this group. Jordan already shelters large numbers of Palestinians and had wanted other countries to share the burden. Until this latest response from Brazil, only Canada and New Zealand which took 54 and 22 Palestinians respectively in recent years had come forward to help this desperate group.

Before departing, the whole group had been extensively briefed, culturally sensitized and given Portuguese language lessons by Brazilian UNHCR staff presently working in Jordan. In the meantime, the UNHCR office in Brazil has prepared for the arrival of the Palestinians, by hiring bilingual (Arabic-Portuguese) staff for our partner organisations. The staff has been trained in Palestinian traditions and culture and will focus on ensuring the smooth integration of the Palestinians into Brazilian society.

The first group will be followed over the next few weeks by another 70 Palestinian refugees from Ruwayshed. The Palestinians will be settled in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul state. All of the Palestinians will receive rented accommodation, furniture and material assistance for up to 24 months. Employment profiles are presently being analysed to ensure job opportunities for all, while a network of volunteers and local communities has been set up to provide moral support during their integration. All of the Palestinian children will initially be given the opportunity to attend classes in Portuguese, until the start of the next school year in March 2008, when they will be able to fully participate in school

UNHCR welcomes Brazil's humanitarian resettlement of the Palestinians and Jordan's help in hosting the group and permitting their departure. The Palestinians benefit from the 'solidarity resettlement programmes' which were proposed as one of the durable solutions for refugees in the 2004 Mexico Plan of Action. The plan, which was adopted by 20 Latin American countries, has so far only benefited refugees from the region mainly Colombians.

More than 1,750 Palestinians from Iraq remain stranded along the Iraq-Syria border in deplorable conditions. Another estimated 13,000 Palestinians continue to be targeted, harassed, threatened and killed in Baghdad.




UNHCR country pages


An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook and Country Chapters

July 2011 edition of the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

Posted on 20 February 2007

Non-Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Palestinians Refugees in Iraq

Since the overthrow in 2003 of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, Palestinian refugees in Baghdad have increasingly become the targets of arrest, kidnapping, threats and murder, prompting thousands to flee the capital.

There are still an estimated 15,000 Palestinians in Iraq – compared to more than double that number in 2003. They live in constant fear, many without proper documentation. For those who try to leave, the trip to Iraq's border with Syria and Jordan is increasingly dangerous. Hundreds are stuck at the Iraq-Syrian border, too scared to go back and unable to cross the frontier. Those who do manage to leave Iraq, often do so illegally.

International support is urgently needed to find a temporary humanitarian solution for the Palestinians. UNHCR has repeatedly appealed to the international community and countries in the region to offer refuge to the Palestinians. The refugee agency has also approached resettlement countries, but only Canada and Syria have responded positively. Syria has since closed its borders to other desperate Palestinians.

UNHCR also advocates for better protection of the Palestinian community inside Iraq.

Palestinians Refugees in Iraq

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Emergency Resettlement – One Family's Journey to a New Life

After their family fled Syria, young brothers Mohamed and Youssef still were not safe. Unable to access medical treatment for serious heart and kidney conditions, they and the rest of their family were accepted for emergency resettlement to Norway.
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A new life for refugees from Bhutan

They fled to Nepal from Bhutan amid ethnic tensions in the early 1990s. Now, many of the slightly more than 100,000 refugees have been offered the possibility of resettlement to another country.