meanwhile, back at Wikileaks…

Posted: January 24, 2011 by prrnassistant in Iceland, Iraq, Syria, UNHCR, US

Wikileaks has recently posted two more US diplomatic cables related to the Palestinian refugee issue.

The first concerns Iceland’s decision in 2008 to accept a small number of Palestinian refugees who had been living in the al-Waleed and al-Tanf refugee camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border. According to the May 2008 cable from US Embassy in Reykjavik, the move generated divisons that were “characteristic of growing xenophobic tensions in Icelandic society”:

Iceland’s recently-announced plan to accept 30 Palestinian refugees has sparked new debate on societal tolerance of
immigrants and again revealed deep divisions in the Liberal Party.  Meanwhile, the town of Akranes, just outside Reykjavik, is poised to accept the refugees despite a loosely-organized petition drive opposing the plan….

A total of 29 refugees later arrived in Iceland—you’ll find a video report on it here.

In another cable, the US Mission in Geneva reports in May 2009 on a recent meeting of the “Working Group on Resettlement” dealing, in part, with Palestinian refugees fleeing Iraq:

There was discussion of progress in responding to UNHCR’s October “Flash Appeal” to meet the resettlement needs of vulnerable Palestinians from Iraq currently residing in difficult circumstances in Al Waleed, Al Tanf and Al Hol camps. UNHCR’s efforts to refer these Palestinians have thus far resulted in referrals for about half of the original 2,300 to various resettlement countries but another 1,150 places are needed. For countries requiring in-person interviews, the pace of off-take will depend on the establishment of workable logistical arrangements.

…nothing especially new or noteworthy there. According to UNHCR, the al-Tanf camp was eventually closed in February 2010 after the 1,000 or so refugees there had been resettled elsewhere (including Iceland), and another 300 relocated to the al-Hol camp. In January 2011, UNHCR announced that it hopes to complete all resettlement of Palestinian refugees from the camp soon.

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