During WWII, Sweden set a great example of solidarity and sympathy with its neighbors. Many Swedish families who owned summer houses or houses for rent or other purposes prepared these houses to take in those who had escaped the war in Norway and Denmark. They prepared food and other things to keep them warm, and even thought to write welcoming signs outside their doors. This story, as beautiful as it is, raised sadness and despair in the hearts of displaced people in our country as they see the attitudes of their Arab brothers in countries that were one less than a hundred years ago.
What the Palestinian refugees have faced escaping from Syria to Jordan is the clearest example of the inhospitality of the neighboring countries. Human rights organizations have strongly condemned the abusive and inhumane Jordanian position toward Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria during the war.
In a report issued in August 2014, the organization mentioned that “Jordan has officially prevented Palestinian refugees who resided in Syria from entering its territories since January 2013. It has also deported over 100 Palestinian refugees since mid-2012 — most of whom were women and children. In addition, the Jordanian authorities deprived some Palestinian refugees of their Jordanian nationality, pretending they have spent too much time in Syria or their documents were invalid, and thus contravened all their commitments and violated the rights of Palestinian refugees.
Jordan took in around 607,000 Syrian refugees, while it refused to take in Palestinian refugees who had also greatly suffered from the Syrian situation. This contradiction forces us to look for the real reasons for these two different attitudes. Prior to the Syrian revolution, around 520,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria, choosing it to be their second home after they had been displaced. Most of these refugees had to escape just like Syrians did, but their plight was tougher and sadly no one seemed to care for their case and their suffering.
Most neighboring countries set tight conditions for the entry of Palestinian refugees, but Jordan was the first to deport them back to Syria. Many of them were forced to forge Syrian documents to get a permission to live in Jordan where their relatives lived, while others were smuggled in and thus had to hide from Jordanian security officers who raided the cities and neighborhoods where they lived.
The Jordanian government found no shame depriving Palestinian refugees of Jordanian nationality, after they were granted it, pretending that their documents were invalid, as if they had not been properly renewed.
Although many international organizations have documented these violations, they still have not taken any serious decisions on them. Quite a few Palestinian refugees were left to live in Cyber camp, the camp that is known to have a very bad reputation, where they were imprisoned, their sole crime being that they were Palestinians. In some cases, deportation left Palestinian families with no breadwinner nor a source of income.
Oum Mahmoud is an old Palestinian woman who lives in Erbid, and survives on the little she receives from charities, after the Jordanian authorities deported her son back to Syria. “We came to Jordan in mid-2013 after we paid a lot of money for a smuggler to help us across the borders. We arrived to Erbid and my son began searching for a job and he found one at the grocery market. He worked there selling vegetables for four months, and we were fine until he was arrested there and deported immediately,” said Oum Mahmoud.
Sadly the old woman can’t receive assistance from UNRWA because she also has to stay hidden from authorities or else she would be deported. “ I never thought my son, who left early that morning to try and get us some food and some money for the rent, would call me a few hours later from Syria to tell me that he was deported and that he was sorry he couldn’t stay with me,” she continued.
In May 2013 and during a meeting with a human rights organization, Fayez Al-Tarawneh, the royal court chief and previous prime minister admitted these deportations and defended the policy Jordan applies toward Palestinian refugees.
“There have been clear demographic changes due to the large number of Palestinian refugees coming from Syria which caused instability in Jordan,” he said. He didn’t fail to mention that more than half the residents of Jordan were actually Palestinians who emigrated there since 1948.
As for the deportation of Palestinian refugees Al-Tarawneh said that “I don’t think there is a clear law about deporting Palestinians or others, but maybe some Palestinians who were not granted the Jordanian nationality had been deported to protect the security and stability of the kingdom.”
In spite of the Jordanian policy of being inhospitable towards Palestinian refugees, until July 2014 UNRWA was able to register around 14,000 Palestinian refugees there. Only 1,300 of them had entered legally, before the Jordanian government took action to prevent Palestinian refugees from Syria from entering Jordan. Most of these refugees are originally from Daraa camp and other southern areas close to the Jordanian borders, which were destroyed by the Syrian forces. This made it difficult for the residents of these areas to think of returning there. Palestinian refugees were sentenced to face all kinds of dangers in neighboring countries, which left them with no choice but to escape. A question is raised here: is there any other beneficiary of this enforced displacement but the Zionist entity?