PCHR Calls for Prompt Action to Enable Return of Thousands of Palestinians Stranded outside Gaza

Sunday, 27 February 2011 12:30
Ref: 7/2011

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses grave concern over the continued suffering of thousands of Gazans who have been stranded in various countries abroad for more than one month due to emergency measures that prevent their entry onto Egyptian territory through Cairo Airport, currently the only available route for return to Gaza.
According to PCHR information, Palestinians have been denied access to Egypt since the eruption of the uprising in Egypt. On 30 January 2011, Rafah International Crossing Point was closed in both directions and Palestinians flying to Cairo Airport were denied access to Egyptian territory. On 17 February 2011, Rafah crossing was opened in one direction, allowing Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return to Gaza. On 22 February 2011, the crossing was reopened in both directions and hundreds of Gazans permitted to travel via the crossing managed to leave or return to Gaza. On the other hand, Palestinians in different countries of the world wishing to return to Gaza via Egypt are still denied access to Cairo Airport. Airlines received instructions not to transfer Palestinians wishing to return to Gaza via Egypt to Cairo Airport. This has resulted in the suffering of thousands of Palestinians, including dozens of families who travelled abroad and who urgently need to return to Gaza so their children can attend school. Other travelers denied return are patients who underwent surgery or received treatment abroad as well as employees and workers who are in danger of losing their positions of employment.
In view of the above, PCHR:
1. Calls upon President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene promptly and take serious action in order to put an end to the hardship facing Palestinians unable to return to Gaza, instruct Palestinian embassies abroad to assume their responsibilities towards stranded Palestinians, and exert best efforts to ensure their immediate return.
2. Calls upon the Egyptian government to permit the return of Palestinians to Gaza as soon as possible, facilitate their return to Gaza via Egypt and allow freedom of movement of Palestinians travelling to and from the Gaza Strip, especially through Rafah crossing and Cairo International Airport.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

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