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South 2 North

The refugees within the refugees

We explore the plight of those fleeing Syria's civil war, some of them Palestinians who are being displaced yet again.

Last Modified: 06 Apr 2013 07:37
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No subject is off limits in the first ever global talk show hosted from Africa in which Redi Tlhabi talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.

In March 2013, Bushra a 19-year-old Syrian mother of two, walked into a refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon.

She symbolically became the one millionth refugee to flee Syria’s devastating civil war. Both sides of the conflict now stand accused of international human rights violations. The UN warns of an unfolding humanitarian disaster.

But behind the Syrian headlines of "One million refugees" lies the plight of more than half a million Palestinian refugees who have made Syria their home. The majority of them live in the Damascus area, the site of recent intensive fighting, which has forced them to flee. Once again, six decades into a seemingly unsolvable conflict, they are stateless.

On South2North this week, we speak to Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, who is tasked with the welfare of the Palestinian refugees. He speaks about the vulnerabilities of refugee communities and how the Palestinian people specifically have struggled with successive conflicts in the region.

"They happen to have left their homes in 1948, 1949, and to be exiled in a region that has always been affected by successive conflicts. So even as their plight was not being resolved, they found themselves in other peoples wars. As is the case with Lebanon in the '70s and the '80s, and in other places as well. And today those Palestinian refugees that find themselves in Syria, they are still in Syria for more than 60 years, without a solution to their original cause for flight."

Our second guest, Alex Boraine, was instrumental in the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, a mechanism designed to deal with the massive human rights violations post-apartheid by providing amnesty to those willing to confess their crimes.

Boraine believes that the solution to dealing with refugees is to deal with the conflicts that initially displace them.

"The tremendous work that is being done to care for refugees is good, and one would never criticise that, it’s a thankless, difficult task, but it's ambulance work. What we need to do is stop the accidents, stop the violence."

We also speak to Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian activist and author of the book Mornings in Jenin. Abulhawa argues that the lack of international will to end the conflict has resulted in the long-running oppression of the Palestinian people.

"Really, this is the only instance in history that I am aware of where the world has demanded that an oppressed people sit down with their oppressors and negotiate for freedom, as if freedom were negotiable, and to negotiate for basic human rights, as if they were political bargaining chips, which they are not," she says.

 

South2North can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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