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» 02/02/2007
IRAQ – PALESTINE
Palestinians in Iraq say they are targeted by “ethnic cleansing campaign”
A privileged class under Saddam Hussein, Palestinian refugees are now being targeted by Shiite militias. In 2006, more than 600 were killed in Baghdad. Thousands of families have fled and those who stayed back no longer dare to go out of the house with their identity documents.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – A “systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing” targeting Palestinian refugees is under way in Baghdad, according to Palestinian leaders and political activists. In 2006 alone, more than 600 were killed by Shiite militias. A report in the English-language Israeli daily, Jerusalem Post, said that since the fall of Saddam Hussein, thousands of Palestinian families have fled Iraq, not knowing where to go. Neighbouring Syria and Jordan have limited entries while attacks and violence have affected border refugee camps too.

Up to three years ago, there were around 30,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, they were a privileged class but they have always been regarded with disfavour by the Shiites, who were marginalized and persecuted by the raìs. An Iraqi from Baghdad told AsiaNews that during the dictatorship of Saddam, Palestinians were very rich, they held important posts and always received government aid. “They used to have very luxurious houses and what’s more, that had electricity all day while the rest of the city had to make do with only two out of every five hours,” said the source. Saddam had always given to understand that “an offence against a Palestinian was an offence against the raìs himself.”

Today, Palestinians in Iraq number less than 10,000 and most of them live in fear of their lives, afraid to go out. Nadia Othman, who escaped from Baghdad to Jordan, told about the death of her brother: “Shiite militias stopped him in the street as he was on his way to the school where he taught Arabic. When they saw his documents, they immediately fired three bullets at his head," she said. "On the same day, they kidnapped and murdered Farid Al-Sayed, chairman of the Palestinian-controlled Haifa Sports Club in Iraq."

Another Palestinian who went to the northern West Bank said Palestinians were so scared they no longer went out with documents to conceal their true identity.

Zakariya Al-Agha, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Refugees Department, expressed “deep concern” over the fate of the Palestinians in Iraq." He said 400 Palestinians were living in tough conditions along the border after Damascus denied them entry. Atef Udwan, minister for refugee affairs in the Hamas-led government, said he was searching for a way to allow the Palestinians in Iraq to move to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "We need to persuade Israel to give these people permission to enter our territories. This is a purely humanitarian issue that must be addressed urgently."


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See also
01/09/2007 UN - IRAQ
UN: $60 million more needed for Iraqi refugees
08/29/2007 UN - IRAQ
UN: Iraqi refugees top 4 million
07/11/2007 IRAQ
Iraqi Red Crescent Society warns about 100,000 additional internally displaced people every month
06/19/2007 UN
Iraq raises the number of the world’s refugees to 10 million
08/18/2004 VATICAN - IRAQ
Nuncio in Baghdad: "Only jobs and security can stop the flight of Christians and Muslims"

Editor's choices
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SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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