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Palestinians in Syria

Briefing notes

Palestinians in Syria

12 May 2006

A group of 43 Palestinians, including 25 women and children, who had remained behind on the Syria-Iraq border on Tuesday when 244 other Palestinians were allowed entry into Syria has now also been granted entry. The group entered Syria on Wednesday night following talks between UNHCR and Syrian authorities.

Six of the 43 were part of a group that had been stranded at Trebil, on the Iraqi side of the border with Jordan, for nearly two months. The other 37 Palestinians had travelled directly from Baghdad to the Iraq-Syria border. They were taken to the UNHCR-run El Hol refugee camp in Syria's El-Hasaka province by UNHCR, joining the other 244 who had arrived on Tuesday. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Work Agency) dispatched a medical team to check their health.

El Hol refugee camp presently houses 305 Palestinians, including a group of 18 who had arrived there earlier this year. UNHCR is providing food and accommodation to all refugees and will continue to do so until the group is handed over to UNRWA, which is responsible for Palestinians in the Near East.

We have also learned that two additional Palestinian families (16 people) arrived from Baghdad at the Iraq-Syria border on Wednesday night and are now waiting at the Tanef border crossing, hoping for access into Syria.

Most of the Palestinians now in Syria left Baghdad in March, fearing increased intimidation, kidnapping and killings. Many had spent most of the lives in Iraq or were born there. More than 30,000 Palestinians are believed still living in Iraq.