[News] Palestinians still stranded on Syrian-Lebanese border

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 28 12:48:22 EDT 2006


Palestinians still stranded on Syrian-Lebanese border
Report, IRIN, 28 July 2006
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5287.shtml

[]

While hundreds of people of an array of nationalities cross the 
Syrian border every day, some 200 Palestinians have been refused 
entry. (<http://www.irinnews.org>IRIN)

MASNAA -- Some 200 Palestinians are still waiting at the 
Lebanese-Syrian border crossing at Masnaa for entry authorisation 
from the Syrian government.

Having fled from some of the worst-hit areas of Lebanon, around Tyre 
and the southern Bekaa Valley, the stricken families have officially 
left Lebanese territory but are being refused entry into Syria. They 
now find themselves stuck in a virtual no-man's land between the two countries.

Almost all those waiting at Masnaa hold joint Lebanese-Palestinian 
travel documents, specially issued for the 350,000-400,000 
Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanon but who enjoy only limited 
rights and restricted status.

Although the UN estimates that around 1,000 Palestinians have already 
been allowed into Syria, many at the border have been trapped for 
more than a week, with a sense of frustration and even desperation 
becoming increasingly evident.

In a near derelict room attached to the main immigration hall, where 
the more fortunate wait to have Syrian entry visas stamped in their 
passports, several Palestinian families have set up makeshift beds, 
with mats, food supplies and foam mattresses laid out on the concrete floor.

"We've been waiting here 10 days, and they've given us all the food, 
water and medicines we need," says 26-year-old Wissam Nemereh, who 
worked informally as a painter in Tyre before fleeing the Israeli 
bombardment. "For that, we thank the Syrians. But we need shelter. 
They need to let us into the country. They're allowing in Americans, 
Iraqis, Somalis, Sudanese - everyone but us. Now they say we have to 
wait until the PLO sends a document to Damascus."

Laurens Jolles, the Acting Representative for UNHCR in Syria, says 
that the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has made an urgent request to 
the Syrian government, asking that entry requirements for 
Palestinians be relaxed on humanitarian grounds.

"We are concerned about the situation and we're working on it," 
Jolles told IRIN. "Overall, though, Syria is coping quite well with 
the influx of people, mainly thanks to the Syrian Red Crescent and 
the overwhelming generosity of the Syrian people, who have donated 
supplies and are housing stranded families."

In the border zone at Masnaa, a mile-long strip in the mountainous 
terrain between Lebanon and Syria, the Palestinian Red Crescent has 
also been assisting its Syrian counterpart in providing relief.

"I've been here seven days so far, and each day around 90 to 400 
Palestinians arrive at the border," says Dr Bassel Tameem, who works 
for the Palestinian Red Crescent in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus. 
"The number of families actually waiting here depends on how bad 
things are in Lebanon, and on what's happening at the border crossing 
into Syria. Some of them are let in, while others are told that they 
must wait for the authorities to obtain the necessary paperwork."

Syrian immigration officials at the border declined to comment on the 
situation.


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