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PCBS: 7,000 Palestinians emigrate annually

Dec. 28, 2010 10:56 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 29, 2010 10:05 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The first report of its kind, prepared by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah and released on Monday, showed large numbers of émigrés from the West Bank, and Gaza most of whom were young men aged 15-29.

Education, improved living conditions, and job opportunities were found to be the central motive for moving abroad in a survey which counted a total of 32,000 Palestinians leaving Palestinian areas between 2005-9, destined primarily for Jordan (24 percent), the United States (22 percent) and nations in the Arab Gulf (20 percent).

While the number of Palestinians moving abroad reached 7,000 annually since 2005, the survey also tracked the number of Palestinians who returned to the West Bank during that period, noting a large fluctuation in numbers, with the lowest year for returnees at 2007, when only 5,000 moved back. Over the 4-year period, a total of 30,411 returned, with the highest number in 2009, at 7,077.

Officials noted that information available from 1991-2009 indicated that the largest number of returnees moved to Palestine prior to 1991, while about one third returned during 1995-1999 following the signing of the Oslo Accords and establishment of the Palestinian Authority. The number of returnees declined during 2000-2009, the report said, as a result of the second Palestinian Intifada and large scale Israeli incursions.

Like the majority of émigrés, returnees were also young, with 37 percent between 15-29, and returned from the top host nations in Jordan and the Gulf states. Palestinians moving to the West Bank from Jordan comprised 43 percent of total returnees, while 29 percent returned to Gaza.

Leaving for education, better living conditions

The PCBS survey found that the majority of Palestinians who emigrated did so seeking to improve living conditions, 39 percent, for educational reasons, 19 percent, and due to a lack of job opportunities, 15 percent.

For residents of the Gaza Strip, however, the insecure living conditions were a much higher factor in emigration, at 14 percent over 6 percent in the West Bank.

Fifty-seven percent of all emigrants were young men, of whom one third had advanced degrees, mostly in the sciences. Less than one percent of emigrants had not completed high school.

Internal migration

The PCBS survey found internal movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza was "extremely limited," citing geographical separation and the policies of Israeli occupation.

Internal relocation, the survey found, was primarily within the home governorate or to neighboring locations, and marriage was the primary factor motivating an individual to move. Thirty-three percent of internal migrants were 15-29 years old, and another thirty percent between 30-44.

The largest numbers moved to the Salfit governorate (38 percent of all internal migrants) from the Ramallah area, then residents of the Tubas governorate (24 percent of all internal migration) to the Jenin governorate to the north.

The Jericho governorate also had an influx of residents, with 20 percent of whom were from the Jerusalem governorate and 22 percent from Bethlehem.

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