As the world rightfully dedicates this important day to the remembrance of the plight of refugees across the world; particularly the rise of dispossession globally to unprecedented numbers whereby 1 in 122 people is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum there is a missing component pertaining to this topic that continues to be ignored- the status of Palestinian refugees.
Refugee affairs across the world, whether it be the Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war and conflict in the region, the Iraqi's in the same circumstances of fear of persecution, or the Rohingya's in Burma all fall within the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees under international law. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the international legal body that is mandated to administer and govern refugee affairs across the globe through its Statute and legal personality.
However, the only refugees in the world that are administered and governed outside of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees mandate are the Palestinians. The Palestinian refugees fall under the administration of the United Nations Relief Works Agency; a specialized agency solely for the Palestinian refugees dispossessed since 1948 after the ethnic cleansing process that occurred. The refugee camps administered by this agency are within the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan as well as those dispossessed internally within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
UNRWA and Statelessness: The institutionalized Nakba and memoricide
There are various categories of dispossessed such as refugees, internally displaced people asylum seekers and stateless people. The United Nations Relief Works Agency defines Palestinians as "persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period of June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict." Given this defined status of Palestinian refugees by this specialized agency; Palestinians are therefore rendered stateless reinforced by the international legal definition of Statelessness. Considering and categorizing Palestinians as Stateless means that they have no place to return to since historic Palestine has now been replaced with the State of Israel; meaning that they are to legally evaporate as a distinct group of people into the fabric of other nations through the acquiring of other nationalities or citizenships thereby legislating and judicializing the erasure and memoricide campaign through the avenue of international law. Therefore the options for Palestinians is either to be permanent welfare recipients of "relief and humanitarian assistance" or to assimilate into other nations and accept the erasure of their own distinct identity and culture.
The problematic nature of the Palestinians status within the realm of international refugee law has been clearly reflected within the various other conflicts that involve refugees. For example, the Palestinian refugees in Syria have been deeply affected and scapegoated by the civil war in Syria which has also affected the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon due to the spillover affect over the borders. The Yarmouk refugee camp has been caught up in the conflict and used in the midst of the battlefield whereby the plight of the Palestinians was retriggered and reinforced into a relived Nakba and dispossession; some of whom have been caught in the typical legal vacuum when trying to flee into neighboring countries such as Lebanon leaving them with no international legal protection.
Furthermore, the Palestinians have been victimized and dispossessed again with the Islamic State advances in Iraq forcing them to flee to other areas in Iraq. In fact, the Palestinians have been particularly victimized after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the US-British invasion of Iraq whereby many of them have and continue to be stuck in the deserts of Iraq gone unnoticed with no place to go reinforcing the legal vacuum and black hole that the international law regime is perpetuating against the Palestinians and their rights.
Palestinians and the indigenous rights framework
Notwithstanding the fact that the UNHCR is colluding in the plight of the Palestinian people through hiring of the services of GS4; a British security company that provides surveillance technology to Israel's prisons holding Palestinian children against international law and setting aside the fact that the right of return for Palestinians is preserved under international law through United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194(11), the Palestinian right of return is also protected under the framework of indigenous rights within the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; particularly Article 10. The Palestinians are the indigenous peoples of the land, that have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed as result of the imposition and creation of a settler colonial state that continues to expand and engage in this ethnic cleansing process or Nakba against the Palestinians many of whom remained on the land as internally displaced or those 20 percent who reside as third class citizens of this settler colonial state. The protection provisions under the indigenous rights framework guarantees the right of return to the land of historic Palestine regardless of the statehood status as indigenous rights is not exclusive to the existence of statehood but rather is focused on the ancestral and traditional relationship of the particular people to the land.
Therefore, World Refugee Day should not only be about the rightful remembrance of the plight of refugees and the dispossessed across the world but also to remember the alienation of the Palestinians and their rights under these circumstances experienced in silence and under the watch of the international body-politic that professes international human rights law.