Brazil to resettle 100 Palestinian residents of Rweished camp

Brazil has accepted to resettle 100 Palestinians from Iraq who have been living in the Rweished refugee camp for more than four years, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.“UNHCR is grateful for a generous offer by the government of Brazil to resettle the refugees. They have faced extremely harsh conditions in a dusty and scorpion-infested desert camp with nowhere to go,” the agency said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The Palestinians are the first group of refugees from outside Latin America to benefit from the “solidarity resettlement programmes”, proposed in the 2004 Mexico Plan of Action.

UNHCR officials said the refugees will be sent to Brazil by September at the latest, in three batches, with the elderly and families with children expected to leave first.

UNHCR personnel from Brazil are providing the refugees with needed information on Brazilian culture in order to acquaint them with the new environment.

Language and orientation classes will continue for up to 12 months after their arrival in Brazil and the group will be given proper medical care, according to the refugee agency.

An estimated 22 Palestinian families will be settled in Sao Paulo state, while 18 will go to Rio Grande do Sul, in the southeast and southern regions of Brazil.

Unaccompanied elderly refugees will be settled in a home for the elderly where medical treatment is provided, the statement said.

All families will receive rented accommodation, furniture and material assistance for up to 24 months.

Employment profiles are presently being analysed to ensure job opportunities for all, while a network of volunteers and local communities is being established to provide moral support during their integration.

The children will study Portuguese until the start of the next school year in March 2008, when they will be able to fully participate in school, according to the statement.

The Palestinian refugees arrived in Rweished shortly after the war on Iraq started in 2003. The camp used to be home to nearly 2,000 people from various regions including Sudan, Iran and Kurdistan. The majority were settled in a third country, mainly Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

With the departure of the 100 Palestinians, some 20 people, mostly Iraqis and Iranian Kurds, will remain at the camp, which is run by the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organisation.

The UNHCR provides food and other necessities, while Jordan manages the camp, keeping law and order and providing medical services.

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