A number of international conventions provide for the protection of refugees’ rights. These include: the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol of 1967, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflicts, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which calls for international protection for refugee women and their children. The need to address the dire situation of female refugees in Arab states is prompted by the aggravated suffering they endure and calls for the evocation of three fundamental rights derived from the principles of international humanitarian law: the right of refugees to return to their original homeland, the right to be compensated for their material losses and psychological trauma, and the right to have their property restored.
The right of refugees to return to their places of origin is closely linked with peoples’ right to self-determination, a right considered by international law as a fundamental rule. The issue of refugee men and women is, furthermore, linked to the unity of their lands and their people.
The suffering of refugee women is compounded by the daily violation of their human rights as a result of continued occupation (e.g., in the case of Palestinian women) and ongoing conflict (e.g., in the case of Iraqi and Sudanese women). Another factor compounding their suffering is the lack of a permanent solution after many years of displacement, which contravenes the right of female refugees to return to their homes. This report illuminates more clearly the challenges and situations of violence faced by refugees, particularly women and children, and shares recommendations on how the international community should respond to ensure that violence, discrimination, and marginalization of these groups does not continue in the region.