Palestinian exodus from Kuwait (Gulf War)
|Total Palestinian refugees deported from Kuwait today (including descendants):||100,000-200,000|
|Total refugees in 1991:||200,000|
|Regions with significant populations:|| Jordan
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The Palestinian exodus from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. There were 400,000 Palestinians in Kuwait before the Gulf War. During the Gulf War, more than 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to harassment and intimidation by Iraqi security forces, in addition to getting fired from work by Iraqi authority figures in Kuwait. After the Gulf War in 1991, Kuwaiti authorities forcibly pressured nearly 200,000 Palestinians to leave Kuwait. The policy which partly led to this exodus was a response to the alignment of PLO leader Yasser Arafat with Saddam Hussein.
Only in 2004, the political situation between Kuwaiti and Palestinian leadership improved with official apology of Mahmud Abbas on PLO support of the Iraqi invasion in 1991. In 2012, the official Palestinian embassy in Kuwait was re-opened.
The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were Jordanian citizens. In 2013, there were 280,000 Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin in Kuwait. In 2012, 80,000 Palestinians (without Jordanian citizenship) lived in Kuwait. In total, there are 360,000 Palestinians in Kuwait as of 2012-2013.
Palestinians arrived in Kuwait in three different phases, 1948, 1967 and 1975. In the 1980s, Kuwait economy heavily relied on Arabs from neighboring countries. Arabs constituted the bulk of labor force.
More than 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to harassment and intimidation by Iraqi security forces, in addition to getting fired from work by Iraqi authority figures in Kuwait. The Iraqi education ministry in Kuwait fired 3000 Palestinians in September 1990, and the dismissals of Palestinians from other sectors continued throughout October. The Iraqis also put pressure on the PLO office in Kuwait, which had refused to organize any Palestinian demonstrations and rallies in support of Iraq. The only Palestinian demonstration in Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation was actually a pro-Kuwait demonstration, with the Palestinian inhabitants of the Hawalli district waving photos of the Emir.
Kuwait's lack of support for Palestinians after the Gulf War was a response to the alignment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO with Saddam Hussein, who had earlier invaded Kuwait. Palestinians began leaving Kuwait during one week in March 1991, following Kuwait's liberation from Iraqi occupation. On March 14, 1991, only 200,000 Palestinians were still residing in Kuwait, out of initial 400,000.
Kuwaitis said that Palestinians leaving the country could move to Jordan, since most Palestinians held Jordanian passports. According to the New York Times, Kuwaitis said the anger against Palestinians was such that there was little chance that those who had left during the seven-month occupation could ever return and relatively few of those remaining will be able to stay.
The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were generally Jordanian citizens. They were formally recognized as Jordanians of Palestinian origin. In 2013, there were 280,000 Jordanian-Palestinians living in Kuwait. In 2012, there were 80,000 Palestinians (without Jordanian citizenship) living in Kuwait. In total, there are 360,000 Palestinians in Kuwait as of 2012-2013.
In 2004, Kuwait allegedly put off a planned visit by Mahmoud Abbas, then the number two PLO official after Arafat. Palestinian officials denied reports that this was because he would not apologize for Arafat's support for the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. However, on December 12, 2004, Abbas, now the Palestinian leader, apologized for the PLO's support of Saddam Hussein during the invasion. On the first visit to Kuwait by a top Palestinian official since the invasion by Iraq, Abbas said: "I say we yes, we apologize over our stand towards Kuwait."
- Steven J. Rosen (2012). "Kuwait Expels Thousands of Palestinians". Middle East Quarterly. "From March to September 1991, about 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the emirate in a systematic campaign of terror, violence, and economic pressure while another 200,000 who fled during the Iraqi occupation were denied return."
- Shafeeq Ghabra (May 8, 1991). "The PLO in Kuwait".
- "Palestinians Open Kuwaiti Embassy". Al Monitor. 23 May 2013.
- Yann Le Troquer and Rozenn Hommery al-Oudat (Spring 1999). "From Kuwait to Jordan: The Palestinians' Third Exodus". Journal of Palestine Studies. pp. 37–51.
- "Jordanians of Kuwait". Joshua Project. 2013.
- Journal of Palestinian Studies: Palestinians in Kuwait (1991) by Anne M Lesch.
- AFTER THE WAR: Kuwait; Palestinians in Kuwait Face Suspicion and Probable Exile - New York Times
- Crystal, Jill. "Kuwait: Post-War Society". The Persian Gulf States: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Palestine apology to Kuwait - Telegraph
- Abbas apology to Kuwait over Iraq, BBC News, December 12, 2004