Lecturer: Palestinian Asylum Seekers Face EU Protection Gap

On December 9, 2013, the Forced Migration and Refugee Unit at the Birzeit University Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies held a lecture on Palestinian asylum seekers and the protection gap.


Birzeit University staff member and human rights activist Hanady Khurma was the main speaker at the lecture.


The lecture addressed Palestinian refugees in Scandinavian countries, specifically in Sweden and Norway, and their asylum-seeking journey, as well as their political, economic and everyday life conditions. Khurma described the various EU country policies and laws related to refugees and said that refugees are dealt with by the rules of the EU country that they have entered first or the country that granted them an EU visa (Schengen).


This lecture was organized in coordination with the Tawasol Forum Society, as part of the right of return campaign and “We Will Return” project, funded by the Norwegian People’s Aid.


The lecture comes at a critical time as hundreds of Palestinian refugees are trying to flee the war and violence in Syria to Europe. These refugees suffer difficult living conditions and are deprived of basic human rights in Europe. Khurma added that Palestinian refugees who flee from Lebanon to Europe are only given an exit permit and no entry permit by Lebanese authorities. Thus, in case they are denied refugee status in Europe, they cannot return to Lebanon. This creates a legal “No-Man’s Land,” as these refugees no longer have a country to reside in.


Khurma also discussed different European conventions related to forced migration and refugees. Among them are the Dublin Agreements I and II and the British Humanitarian Agreement. These are considered two of the harshest conventions on refugee rights, as they violate three basic rights: that of family unity, child rights and the right of movement. Human rights organizations in Norway have brought these agreements before the International Hague Court.