May 9, 2005

Kuwait towers
Photo Source: Iraq).

Jordan: 360,000 Palestinians, including those from Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states, fled to Jordan during the upheaval of the 1991 Gulf crisis. The large majority of this group held legal Jordanian papers; their return from the Gulf added another 10 percent to the population (Shaml).Over 300,000 remained in Jordan, but owing to the wartime crisis, as with all these figures, it is difficult to be precise. About 30,000–40,000 who held valid Israeli-issued documents went back to the West Bank, and a very small number were able to immigrate to Canada, Australia, or other countries.

West Bank and Gaza: Only about 30,000–40,000 Palestinians were able to return to the occupied territories—the few who had valid documentation.

Syria and Lebanon: Small numbers of Palestinians displaced from Kuwait fled to Syria and Lebanon, mostly those who already held legal documents to enter.

Conclusion: Permanent Insecurity

The crisis that faced, and continues to face, Palestinians in Kuwait highlights the ongoing displacement of the Palestinian people. A nation without a state, ordinary refugees are not only subject to the difficulties of Israeli restrictions and denial of their rights, but also the wider Arab and international community who do not want to be burdened with the responsibility of the catastrophe that the Israelis have caused. Until they have their own independent state, which allows them to travel freely and to return, Palestinians will always remain among the most vulnerable groups in societies abroad, irrespective of what financial resources or residency security they previously believed that they had.


    • Al-Aza’r, Khaled, Arab Protection for the Palestinian Refugees: Investigation of Practice and Foundations for Development, (Bethlehem: Badil, 2004) Paper produced for Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights Expert Forum, Cairo, 2004. Published on Badil Web site.

    • Amnesty International Report: Brand, L. Palestinians in the Arab world, Institution building and the Search for state, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).

    • Ghabra, Shafeeq, Palestinians in Kuwait, (Westview Press: 1997).

    • Lesch, Ann M. “Palestinians in Kuwait,” Journal of Palestine Studies, issue 80, Volume XX, Number 4, Summer 1991.

    • Middle East Watch, Nowhere to Go: The Tragedy of the Remaining Palestinian Families in Kuwait, 23 October 1991.

    • Shaml, Shaml Newsletter (Issue no. 6), Ramallah.

    • UNWRA Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. A/46/13, 30 June 1991.


External links last accessed January 18, 2005.


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