In a report to mark World Refugees Day, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday that Palestinian refugee populations in both the occupied territories and the Diaspora reached 4,255,120 as of March 31, 2005.

 

The overall Palestinian population worldwide is believed to top the ten million figure, according to Muhammed Dureidi, the head of the Palestinian Population Census.

 

Dureidi told Aljazeera.net he believed that younger refugee generations were both more educated and more committed to the right of return than their fathers and grandfathers.

 

"Ben Gurion said the 'old will die and the young will forget.' But from our observations it seems that the younger generations are even more insistent on returning to their original homes and villages however unrealistic this dream may be."

 

David Ben Gurion was the first Israeli prime minister.

 

Statistics

 

A Palestinian refugee displays a
key which symbolises his return 

The report showed that the main concentrations of Palestinian refugees were in Jordan (41.8 %), Lebanon (9.4%), Syria (10.0 %), West Bank (16.2%) and Gaza Strip (22.6%). 

 

According to the report, the percentage of refugees to the overall population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the end of 2005 was 27.2% in the West Bank and 68.4% in the Gaza Strip.

 

Moreover, the report showed that the refugees are a markedly young population, with people under the age of 15 years making up 47.3% of the total population, compared to only 3% for persons 65 years and older.

 

The total fertility rate for refugee women in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2003 was 6.5 persons compared to 6.2 person for non-refugee women.

 

Other refugees

 

Afghan refugees come second worldwide with more than 2.4 million, followed by Iraqi refugees. 

 

Afghan refugees on a hunger
strike outside Oslo Cathedral

More than 650,000 Iraqis fled their war-torn homeland for Jordan and Syria since the beginning of 2005, according to a recent refugee survey.

 

The violence has forced more than 40% of Iraqi professionals to leave, according to the survey, published by the Washington-based US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

 

It said Iraq ranks third worldwide as a source country for refugees, with 888,000 in total, many of whom fled under the government of Saddam Hussein, the former president, and have yet to return.

 

The country with the largest number of internally displaced refugees was Sudan, with 5.3 million, the survey said. Many are victims of the three-year old conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

 

Khalid Amayreh contributed to this report.