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International Conference to discuss Future of Palestinian Refugees

By Sameh Habeeb

 October 18, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) -


The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) will host a conference on the 16th of December 2009 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency UNRWA.

UNRWAs work over the years is unparalleled in many ways. No other institution has been asked to tackle humanitarian crises that affect an entire nation for so long and no other agency has been demanded to plug the gaping holes left by failures in the international community.

Given the origins of the refugee crises and the context in which UNRWA serves, its championing of basic rights for Palestinian refugees is all the more exceptional. Basic rights is the right for all and it is for all to exercise without any barriers but UNRWA has resolutely exercised its mandate to deliver the concisions of humanity against a tidal wave of aggression and defilement.

The enormous tragedy which UNRWA faces is unquestionable. More than Six decades have now passed since the collective dispossession and forced expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral home in Palestine because of Zionist aggression. For 5 Million Palestinians, forced exile still continuous and their Nakba - catastrophe- is still a daily reality.

The early refugees, engulfed with collective despair, were forced to come to terms with the violent rejection of their dream for national self determination and freedom but also with the unimaginable consequences which followed; having struggled for legitimate national and political rights they faced a new reality where they had to fight for their basic human rights that is afforded to us all, to be allowed to return to their home.

In the face of this growing crisis and within a hostile political climate, UNRWA represents hope for many people. UNRWA isn't just an aid organization, it was and still is a surrogate state, helping Palestinians to help themselves. Its institutions continue to build individuals that are able to give back to society greater value than what was rained on them and greater value than one could imagine from a people and individuals whose misery still continues.

On a wider level UNRWA is a symbol and a witness to the different manifestations of the Nakba. Because UNRWA is a constant reminder of the historical crimes committed by Israel and because it threatens to destroy the myths around Israel's origin, its reputation is continuously besmirched if its existence isn't threatened.

To the international community UNRWA is a symbol of collective failure. The eras marking the end of the great wars were built on tremendous aspirations as institutions were mandated to save humanity from the scourge of war but for over sixty years the Palestinian refugees have not seen the light of these promissory statements and they have been failed miserably by these institutions.

The PRC is proud to showcase the services of UNRWA and provide a detailed analysis on the background of its existence. We will use this occasion to bring together a raft of experts and representatives of host countries where UNRWA is active to provide a comprehensive account of UNRWAs contribution and the difficult conditions under which it functions. The occasion will also allow representatives of refugees to share their views on UNRWA.

Many high profile personalities have agreed to join and there are more to confirm. The following is a list of those already confirmed:

•Claire Short- British MP
•Baroness Jenny Tonge- Former British MP
•Professor Norman Finkelstein- American Political Scientist and Author
•Ambassador Khalil Makkawi - head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee
•Dr Daud Abdullah- Expert on Palestinian issue and Deputy Secretary General of the MCB
•Dr Bashir Nafi- Lecturer
•Rachel Rudolf - Professor in Political Science
•Sami Mashasha - UNRWA Spokesperson
•Ali Huwaidi - Director of Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return "Thabit" in Beirut
•Tariq Hamoud - Director of Palestinian Return Community "WAJEB" in Syria
•Wajih Azayiza - Jordanian representative of Palestinian Refugees
•Ali Mustafa - Representative of Palestinian refugees in Host countries
•Nadeem Shehadeh- Representative of Palestinian refugees in Host countries
•Kristina Morvai - Lawyer, Human Rights Lecturer and Member of European Parliament
•Anicee Van Engeland - Professor of Human Rights Law

Event’s Venue:

Friends House (London) Hospitality Friends House 173 Euston Road London NW1 2BJ 


The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) 100h Crown House North Circular Road London NW10 7PN United Kingdom. Tel. No.: 00 44 2084530919 00 44 (0) 8452 303 242 Fax: 00 44 2084530994 00 44 (0) 8452 303 243 Email:

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