Palestinians in Iraq have rejected in recent days an Iraqi parliament decision to annul an article related to their residency in the country.
The Iraqi parliament voted in August on a law regarding the residency of foreigners in the country. The decree included the annulment of article 202 that tackles Palestinians in Iraq, which was issued in 2001.
The recent Palestinian outcry stemmed from President Fouad Masum’s approval of the decision to annul article 202.
The new law raises concerns among Palestinians in Iraq that the privileges that they had enjoyed since 1948 would be taken away from them. These privileges include civil, employment, retirement, education and health rights.
Some Palestinian sources indicate that there are some 750 Palestinian families in Iraq, making up some 4,500 Palestinians in the country. They all are barred from travel, changing their region of refuge or returning to their homeland.
Palestinian documents and the passport are only useful for entry into the Kurdistan region.
The change in Iraq in 2003 negatively affected Palestinians there because signs indicated that they had previously supported the regime of former President Saddam Hussein. Palestinian youths had also joined al-Qaida.
After 2005, Shi’ite militias attacked their homes in the Baghdad neighborhood of al-Baladiyat, forcing them to leave. Palestinian families after that were confined for long years in special encampments in Iraq’s Anbar region. Some of them were deported to European and western countries.
Palestinian Ambassador to Iraq Ahmed Akel had called on all Iraqi powers to preserve the Palestinian people’s rights in Iraq.
A statement from the Iraqi government general secretariat clarified that the recently approved law tackles residency issues, not refugee ones.
Another law on refugees was also ratified, it explained, saying that it preserves the rights of the Palestinians. The annulment of article 202 does not violate any of the rights of the Palestinians living in Iraq.