Palestinians in Iraq Displaced Repeatedly

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Palestinians, who fled their home country in 1948 and settled in Iraq, have been displaced again in their adopted country. The families left Palestine after the creation of the state of Israel and set up residency in Mosul. They were persecuted under the regime of Saddam Hussein and denied rights of ownership given to regular Iraqi citizens. Despite this they stayed in Mosul for years until ISIS fighters took over the city and encouraged them to fight with them under the pretense of giving the Palestinians a state (Islamic State).

After they refused, the Palestinians fled Mosul to the Khazer refugee camp in the Kalak region, 50km east of Erbil, on the Iraqi-Syrian border, along with other refugees from northern Iraq. However ISIS forces kept advancing, taking over more towns in the region, which lead to the Kurdish Peshmerga evacuating the refugees from the area. They moved the Palestinians to the Baharka camp near Erbil, where they are sheltering for now.

Ibrahim, Palestinian father (man, Arabic):

“At first let me tell you that we are Palestinians, and we have been suffering continuously from 1948 until now. We have been persecuted and treated unjustly since then. Even during the rule of Saddam Hussein, Palestinians used to suffer as well. We weren't allowed to have Iraqi nationality, we couldn't own a house, and we couldn't own anything under our names. Even when Hussein was overthrown and the new regime took control we still suffered. To Arabs in general, Palestinians are terrorists. Anywhere we go, we are always treated in a negative way, once we show our IDs that say that we are Palestinian, the way they treat us changes.

The day the fighters came into Mosul, you can call them whatever you want “ISIS” or “IS” or anything, they already had information that we are Palestinian. They came to us asking us to fight with them, under the pretext that we are oppressed, and that they will help us have our own state. Of course we couldn't allow our children to join the fighting, or else they will be considered terrorists and will probably end up dead, but we had no other choice, no one can argue with them. If we had we would be treated as apostates. They told us we have two days to make our children join the fighting. Even if they can't fight, they will train them and give them salaries. We, the decision makers in the community, held a meeting and decided to flee the area the next day to the Khazer camp.

Our situation is not safe, if the next day Mosul is freed [from ISIS], the government will tell us to go back, but when we are in Mosul, our lives are in danger. Since we are Palestinian, the Iraqi government will treat us as terrorists. If we go to Mosul today, ISIS will punish us because we didn't fight on their side. Either way, our situation in Iraq is dangerous, we thank God we're in Kurdistan now, but our future is unknown. We demand the UNHCR to settle us in another country, because our future here is unstable.”

Ali, Palestinian father (man, Arabic):

“We ask the UN and the Human rights associations to look after us, and take us out of the country. We suffered a lot since we came here. Ever since I was born in this country, I didn't know peace or stability; we have no rights at all. We demand the UN to take us out of Iraq.

We came to this refugee camp without a thing, not even a dollar. We decided to look for a job in order to survive. We are living all together, 8 families supporting and helping each other.

The state of Palestine has provided nothing for us since 1948. We always wished the Palestinian president and the government would look out for us. The only thing we got from any Palestinian official was the official form to get into Erbil easily and that was given by the Palestinian ambassador, here in Iraq.”

Shot list:

00:00 - 01:26 Various shots of Khazer refugee camp and Peshmerga forces
01:27 - 02:16 Various shots of Baharka refugee camp and cutaways of the Palestinian families
08:52 - 10:15 (End) Various shots of Baharka refugee camp and refugees