This is an impressive story of migration: from “Palestine” to Iraq to India, and now finally to Sweden.
Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Palestinians living in Iraq were protected, but they were not well-liked by the people of Iraq. When the tyrant fell, all constraints on the local populace were removed, putting the Palestinians at risk.
A group of them fled to India, but they have not been happy there, and are now moving to Sweden. According to Alertnet:
Palestinians Bid Goodbye to India, Hello Sweden
NEW DELHI, India, November 11 (UNHCR) — More than 100 Palestinian refugees from Iraq are leaving India in the first large-scale resettlement of Palestinian refugees from outside the Middle East.
A total of 137 Palestinian refugees who fled Baghdad for India have been accepted for resettlement by Sweden. So far, 91 have left for Sweden; the rest are due to leave in the next six months. Another 10 left for Norway earlier this year.
Within the community, the mood today is noticeably different from before. Back in Iraq, like other Palestinians after the regime change of 2003, they had been targeted and persecuted. Kidnappings were routine, as were midnight knocks on the door in Palestinian homes. Their shops were torched, their homes looted and bombed. They fled terror and the first groups reached India in March 2006.
Their initial desperation was palpable. Thaier, then aged 38, made an emotional plea to UNHCR staff in New Delhi: “Give us a desert, we will make it fertile. If resettlement countries do not want to take Palestinian men, take women and children. At least I know my family will be safe and will have a future.”
Two years later, he and his family have reason to smile again. “We got the news of our acceptance by Sweden on my son Salah’s birthday,” he said. “I want to forget the miseries and sufferings in Iraq. In Sweden, I will have a home. This will protect me and will ensure the future of my family.”
His wife Nihad, 37, looked forward to a new citizenship and dreams of opening a beauty parlour. “I will call it ‘Jamila’,” she said. “It means a beautiful woman in Arabic.” Eighteen-year-old Salah, guitar in hand, said he wanted to be a famous musician someday. His younger brother Mohammad, 11, added, “I want to be like other children in the world and be able to do my hobbies. One day, I will play football for Sweden.”
Palestinians Muhanid, 25, and Bassim Ali, 42, were among the first to leave in September. “This is the end of my suffering. I feel like a human being again. I will be a citizen, I will have a country to protect me,” said Muhanid before he left. “I am so, so happy. I came from death, I am going to life,” added Bassim.
And how was life in India?
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In New Delhi, all refugees have access to primary health care, free of charge at government hospitals, some of which are very good. Safana, 28, said, “My daughter was born prematurely at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors were excellent. Had she been born in Iraq, she would not be alive.”
Refugee children are welcome in government schools and most refugees have access to work in India’s vast informal labour sector.
So the Palestinians were not mistreated in their new home. Why are they leaving India?
What the Palestinians lacked in India was a sense of belonging. Perhaps more than any other community, they long for a homeland, a country to call their own. Resettlement gives them that opportunity. “We dream of Sweden. How will people receive us? We will be good citizens and will do our best there,” said Ashraf, echoing the sentiments of all those who are being resettled now.
So now they will belong! But what will they belong to?
According to the administrators of the territory formerly known as Sweden, there isn’t really anything worth belonging to in Sweden. If I remember correctly, Mona Sahlin herself has said as much. Sweden is just a piece of real estate like any other, a place for residents of many ethnicities to live together in multicultural harmony and collect welfare benefits.
Sweden as such is of no consequence.
And the original inhabitants — now formally known as “persons of Swedish background” — are less than negligible, not worthy of consideration.
Except, of course, when it comes to paying taxes to support “the new Swedes”. Then they’re indispensable.
Hat tip: Refugee Resettlement Watch.