Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on New Findings in Humanities and Social Sciences
Year: 2018 | Page No.: 23-40
Reasons for Why Gaza Palestinian Immigrants Select Belgium as Asylum Destination: A Palestinian Oral History Study
Jehad Suleiman Salem Al-Masri
This study deals with a sensitive issue related to the prevailing thinking among the residents of Gaza Strip. Some of them seek to reach to Belgium as a temporary refuge due to the difficult living conditions in Gaza resulting from the intense political rivalries which led to an internal conflict between Fateḥ and Ḥamās. This conflict negatively affected all life aspects, worsened by the Gazan’s loss of hope for a breakthrough for the crisis in the foreseeable future. Another group of Gaza Strip residents want Belgium as their permanent home which can relieve them from the complex and long lasting conditions due to the Israeli occupation. Their feelings are coupled with their despair of having an independent Palestinian state in which they can live a normal life. The study is based on oral interviews conducted by the researcher with a sample of male and female residents in Gaza Strip. The interviewees come from different age groups aspiring fir asylum in the European countries, with preference to Belgium. The importance of this study lies in its being a reference for the Belgian Immigration Office to understand the nature of the factors, circumstances, and objectives behind the Gazan’s selection of Belgium as asylum destination than other European Union countries. The study is also a detailed scientific study for the aspiring residents of the Gaza Strip who seek asylum in Belgium. It aims to offer them a better understanding of the nature of asylum in Belgium. Their understanding of the nature of immigration to Belgium was influenced by unofficial sources such as some relatives, acquaintances and colleagues who succeeded in achieving their goals in Belgium. The Gazans aspiring for asylum in Belgium focused on the privileges in Belgium, and ignored the circumstances that helped their peers to succeed in obtaining asylum in Belgium. The conditions which helped their countrymen to succeed in Belgium may not apply to them given that the laws of asylum in Europe change dramatically from time to time under the political, social and demographic conditions. The Gazans aspiring for asylum in Belgium ignored the shortcomings and failures of asylum and integration and did not have the criteria to differentiate between the countries of asylum in the European Union. Belgium became their preferred asylum destination.
Keywords:asylum, immigration, Belgium, Gaza Strip, oral history.