Palestinians, the second-largest refugee population in the world

By Saud Abu Ramadan

Gaza, Jun 20 (efe-epa).- The second-largest refugee group in the world can be found in the Palestinian community, members of which are spread across Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Only Syrian refugees, which comprise some 26 million people, a greater in number. Many Palestinians inherit the status of displaced persons.

According to the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), there are roughly 5.6 million Palestinian refugees.

Although numbers often hide the humanity of the situation, they are also key to understanding the magnitude of the crisis.

Around two million Palestinians live in Jordan, a million are split between Lebanon and Syria and there are more than 800,000 in the occupied West Bank. Another million live in the Gaza Strip.

The origin of the crisis surrounding Palestine’s refugees can be dated to 1948, when hundreds of thousands of people were expelled from their houses upon the creation of the state of Israel.

It came to be known as the Palestinian exodus or “Nakba,” which translates as “tragedy” in Arabic.

Efe spoke to several refugees living in the Gaza Strip.

“My family lived in Jabalia refugee camp and in 1999 we moved to al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip,” Subhi al-Mughrabi, 51, said, adding that the village of their ancestors, located in southern Israel, was destroyed after 1948.

“We still believe that our life in the refugee camp is temporary and we strongly believe that one day we will return to the village.”

The village, formerly called Brier and located to the east of what is now known as Ashkelon, has been a frequent target in the sporadic exchange of rocket fire across the perimeter of the Gaza Strip, which since 2007 has been controlled by the Hamas Islamist group.

Father of six Mohammad Abu Halawa is Palestinian refugee whose family is originally from Jaffa, a multi-religious old city in modern-day Tel Aviv-Yafo.

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