Omar- Statefree family member

Userlevel 3

My name is Omar. I am Palestinian and now live in and study in Belgium.
I grew up in southwest Palestine in what is known as the Gaza Strip. My family ended up
there because they were forced to escape Yazur, Jaffa, in 1948. Today, the Israeli town of
Azor stands on the former site of Yazur which was depopulated and mostly destroyed by the
time my grandparents fled from there. Over time, the word “Palestine” was removed from
maps and dictionaries – locally and globally – and Palestinians were shot if they attempted
to cross back over this artificial border. Think the Berlin Wall before 1991.
I eventually escaped the stress and violence of Palestine and the Gaza Strip, but it was not
the end of my misery. Between, 20XX and 20XX, I lived the life of a refugee in two countries.
Both labeled me as ”stateless“, trapping me in an endless loop of hope and rejection. I was
exhausted, could not obtain a work permit, was not permitted to travel and could not get
health insurance. I invested in myself the best way I knew how, which was to study and try
to prepare myself for a better future. But here too, I found myself shut out of the system,
forced to pay out of state tuition without access to student aid because my identity and my
place of birth were not, and still are not, recognized.
Officially, Palestinians are considered displaced persons who receive assistance from the
UNRWA. They are not reported in the UNHCR-collated global statelessness data because
their situation is supposedly covered by the UNRWA. While the UNRWA offers minimum
basic support for Palestinian refugees living in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, it does not
provide physical protection. And a shortfall of US1.5 billion when the United States cut the
UNRWA’s funds meant that many emergency programs were stopped. For example, the
amount of food given to unemployed Palestinians was reduced. And even more devastating
was the bombing of offices, schools and cars by the Zionist Israeli army between 2014 and
May 2021 – with skirmishes continuing today.
Given my experience, and that of so many others, I see how necessary it is to raise
awareness about statelessness. That’s why I am part of this group, where I want to offer
support and hope to others who are struggling.
My long journey finally ended in Belgium and now I am on a new journey. I am working on
my thesis which is about digital marketing. This is the final step before receiving my MBA. I
got here by having faith and by surrounding myself with positive people and mentors.
In Arabic, my name means “flourishing“ or “long-lived“. May it be so – for all of us who have
or continue to struggle with the day-to-day realities of statelessness.

2 replies

Userlevel 4

@Pali Omar Thank you so much for sharing this insight into your story with us. We are hoping this story inspires and gives hope to others that are struggeling right now. We, as a community, are here for you!!


Userlevel 4

@Pali Omar Thank you for sharing this insight into your story with us and being such a vocal member of our family!

We are hoping your story inspires and gives hope to others that are struggeling at the moment! We, as a community and, are here for you!