HIC-MENA [ Habitat International Coalition ]

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Golan Displaced

What is affected
Housing Social/public
Housing Private
Land Social/public
Land Private
InfrastructureWater
InfrastructureWater
Type of violation Forced eviction
Demolition/destruction
Dispossession/confiscation
Date 06 June 1967
Region MENA
Country Syria
City Golan Heights

Affected persons (number & composition)

Total 305000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
IDPs
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Forced eviction
Costs
Demolition/destruction
Housing losses
- Number of homes
- Total value
Water

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

State
Interntl org.
Zhou Zhengyi, Chen Liangjun, District Government Officials
Brief narrative

Syria: Forty years on, people displaced from the Golan remain in waiting

 

The situation of tens of thousands of Syrian Arabs displaced from the Golan Heights forty years ago is still far from resolved. They fled their homes in disputed circumstances during the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel seized the Golan, a strategic strip of land overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. Since then, Israel has prevented the displaced from returning to their homes. In 1981, Israel formally annexed the area, but this annexation has not been recognised internationally.

The Syrian government estimates that around 305,000 people remain displaced today, a figure which includes the descendants of those displaced in 1967. Forty years on, the Golan’s internally displaced population has largely integrated in their current places of residence across Syria. But while they do not face particular humanitarian risks, many continue to express a wish to return to the Golan.

The issues of the restitution of their property and compensation for lost or destroyed property are also unresolved. A more immediate concern is that many displaced Syrians continue to be prevented from maintaining ties with their relatives living in the occupied Golan.

Regular contact between Syrians living in Israeli-occupied Golan and their displaced family members is not possible, with the exception of specific cases facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Golan remains a potential source of tension and renewed conflict in the region. Israel and Syria have taken part in a series of unofficial talks but formal negotiations have not taken place since 2000. In the summer of 2006, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad restated Syria’s willingness to resume official talks but Israel refused conditioning the reopening of talks on a change in Syrian policy.

A recent Israeli air raid into northern Syria has further discouraged the renewal of peace talks. No progress was noted either on return for a small number of the displaced to Quneitra, a town bordering the occupied Golan which Syria regained in 1974 but never rebuilt. Since the government of Syria unveiled plans to rebuild Quneitra in 2004 to allow an estimated 50,000 people to return, reconstruction has advanced only slowly.

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