Socioeconomic Rights of Refugees in Times of Crisis: The Case of Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria

42 Pages Posted: 4 May 2010 Last revised: 14 Sep 2010

Date Written: May 4, 2010


Refugees and migrants’ choice to move from host country to third ones depend largely on the margin of rights they enjoy in host country, the freedom of movement to their country of origin and to third countries. This paper argues that Palestinian refugeehood is a major destabilizing factor in the Arab region. Host countries, as much as third countries, may end up by treating Palestinian refugees, not their refugeehood, as a danger, thus as a security issue.

States’ policies and legislation reflect this approach to refugees’ problem. The fact that it is the ministry of interior which is often responsible of the issue of Palestinians in host country, and the fact that there is a lack of clear legislative acts regulating their legal status and rights may support the above argument. They are even excluded, in the name of their uniqueness, from international protection measures.

The above political and legal environment in which Palestinian refugees in host countries are subjected and the lack of enforcement measures with regards to the right of return are aggravated by the statelessness of most Palestinians. Finally, this may lead to precarious legal status and rights. Palestinian refugees, more than the others, suffer from political, social but also economic crisis having impact on host countries.

Scholars have tackled largely the impact of political crisis on Palestinian refugees. They did the same with regards to the social problems of host countries. The impact of the economic crisis on Palestinian refugees is not still on the agenda. This research intends to be a contribution in that direction.

What are the consequences of economic crisis on Palestinian refugees in host Arab states? How would their legal status contribute to their precarious economic situation? How would the economic crisis and the precarious economic situation form a push factor to leave the host country towards third countries, and what are possibly their choices?

This research is, by its nature, multi-disciplinary. The methodologies and tools of research reflect this reality. A comparison between states’ policies, as reflected in formal declarations and documents issued by public authorities in host countries as much as between legislative texts is needed to measure the change in policies of host states. The connection between the legal status and the economic prosperity will provide also an insight on how the lack of rights and freedoms contribute to economic deprivation.

Keywords: Palestinian Refugees, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, UNRWA, UNHCR, Social Rights, Economic Rights, Global Financial Crisis

JEL Classification: F22, O15, R23, K19, K39, K33, K31

Suggested Citation

Khalil, Asem, Socioeconomic Rights of Refugees in Times of Crisis: The Case of Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria (May 4, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Asem Khalil (Contact Author)

Birzeit University ( email )

Birzeit, PA


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