Stateless & Deported

Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees

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Stories of Palestinian refugee claimants facing deportation



The story of 3 elderly Palestinians currently in Sanctuary at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Church in Montreal: 

Nabih, age 69 – Khalil, age 67 - and Thérèse, age 62

My name is Youssef El Loubani
Running from their death, seeking life…
The story of Rafat, Palestinian from a refugee camp in Occupied Palestine
The Story of Ahmad Abdul-Majeed













The story of 3 elderly Palestinians currently in Sanctuary at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Church in Montreal: Nabih, age 69 – Khalil, age 67 - and Thérèse, age 62

1930 - Nabih Rizk Ayoub and his brother Khalil are both born in the 30’s in Al Basa, a village 35 Km from Haïfa in Palestine, which was at the time under British mandate.

1948 - The state of Israel is created; the Israelis and neighboring Arab countries go to war. Nabih and his brother Khalil are expelled from their homeland. They seek refuge in Dbayeh refugee camp, one of 14 refugee camps set up in Lebanon by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

1975 - Armed battles explode between rival militias in Lebanon. Nabih, Thérèse and Khalil seek refuge in West Beirut.

1976 - Beirut is under the heavy fire of rival militias. Another exodus for the Ayoub family to Naïma, 20 Km to the south of Beirut.

1982 - Israel invades Lebanon. More than 2000 Palestinian refugees are massacred by right-wing Christian militias allied to Israel in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Yasser Arafat and the PLO are expelled from Lebanon. Nabih, Thérèse and Khalil return to Beirut.

1985 - The civil war continues in Lebanon with, what came to be known as, the war of the camps. Palestinian refugee camps are under siege for months, thousands are killed. The Ayoubs flee once more to seek refuge for a few months in Sidon before returning to the Lebanese capital. Nabih is injured.

1989 - Another back and forth for the Ayoubis between Beirut and the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El Helweh (Sidon) where they were residing.

2001 - The situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate for the Palestinian refugees who are denied their most fundamental rights. The conditions in Ein El Helweh camp are dangerous as rival militias often enter into gun battles. The Ayoub family decides to flee the life of persecution of the camp. They obtain an American visa and arrive in April to Canada where they claim a refugee status.

2003 - On January 29th 2003, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) member rejects their refugee claim. On the 19th of June 2003, the judicial review at the federal Court is rejected and finally on the 26th of November 2003 the Pre-removal risk assessment is also rejected.

2004 - On January 8th, Citizenship & Immigration Canada asks the 3 Palestinians to present themselves at their offices on the 3rd of February 2004 at 8h30 AM in order for them to enforce their removal from Canada. In mid-January, the 3 Palestinians seek refuge at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce church whose members unanimously decided to support the 3 Palestinians who were facing imminent deportation to the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh in Lebanon.



My name is Youssef El Loubani

I was born in Bourj el-Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. My family fled their homes in Palestine in 1948, and have lived for 55 years as refugees in Lebanon, without citizenship or human rights. I grew up stateless, in Bourj el-Barajneh refugee camp, under unbearable hardship, and I had to live every day of my life persecuted and discriminated against. As a Palestinian, I have no right to work in almost 80 professions, own or inherit property, access public education or healthcare, and travel freely.

As a child I lived through civil war, camp sieges and massacres. Our houses in the camps still bare the scars of the attacks, as they have not been reconstructed. We faced hunger many times, rarely sleeping as we were afraid of bomb attacks. During these times we were unable to go to the market as we were not allowed to leave the camp. We survived on what we had. When I was five years old, my family and I were in our house when a bomb exploded on the roof. Most of us were injured. I was injured near my heart and needed surgery and hospitalization.

In 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Beirut, a bomb exploded in my father’s car, and he lost sight in both his eyes. In 1990, my father fell from our roof and was rushed to the Red Crescent hospital in the camp. The camp did not have the proper equipment to help him as he needed an urgent operation on his back, so they sent him to a Beirut hospital, Al Makased. As UNRWA does not cover the costs of his emergency operation, we were forced to borrow money from everyone we knew to cover the hospital fees. The operation failed and he became disabled. After 3 months his situation worsened. At the end of 1990 my father died, leaving my mother, myself and 5 other children.

In top of the violence we suffered in the camp, we also went through an unimaginable nightmare: the kidnapping of my sister Enas on July 27, 1993. A Syrian military officer kidnapped her when she was 11 years and she stayed missing for almost 4 years. We informed the authorities, placed posters of her everywhere, but she was unfound. Almost 4 years after her disappearance, she was released by the military man and came back home. She told us of her terrible story. She had been kept in Syria, in the house of that man and was raped many times. A few weeks after she was back to us, we found out that she was pregnant. My sister’s daughter, Waffa, is now 5 years old, and because she has no father she does not even have papers and access to the basic UNRWA services most children get. She cannot attend school, and also lives under threat daily of him returning for her. Until now our family lives in fear, as the Syrian militia member had returned to our home and demanded little Waffa back. He has much more power than our family does, and we have little to protect her with.

I have always been ambitious and used the little opportunity I had to learn about computers and business. In 1998, I finished high school, and later I obtained a diploma from Norwegian People’s Aid in Business and Office Practice. Even though I was educated, I could not find a job because of the restrictions imposed on stateless Palestinian refugees. Faced with these restrictions I had no civil rights whatsoever and no future in Lebanon.

I came to Canada hoping that I could study and work in a country where I can live with human rights, peace and respect. I have one sister who lives in Canada, she is married and has held citizenship for seven years. My other sister and brother are being sponsored by a group of five well-established Canadians, under the Women at Risk Program, due to the risks to the livelihood of both my sister and her young daughter Waffa. My mother was included in this sponsorship; however, she passed away last spring.

I am now 24 years old, and have spent many of my adult years developing my support network and my life in Montreal. As a stateless person, I wish to have a place that wants me to be living on its soil, to have the same human rights as those around me. To uproot my life here in order to go back to persecution in the refugee camp of Bourj el Barajneh would be unbearable. I would be sentenced to living in a 55 year old refugee camp, as a forgotten person, without protection, my family or the supportive community I have developed here.



Running from their death, seeking life…

This is an appeal from Shaker Khazal to the Canadian government to stop the deportation of Palestinian refugees from Canada. Shaker is a Stateless 15 year old Palestinian refugee stuck in the refugee camp of Bourj El Barajneh in Lebanon.

Every moment, a new thing in life occurs! One of the things that occur is the suffering of people thrown in a world of problems, sunk in dried human rights, waiting death, and looking for hope to achieve their dreams.

By these tiny innocent words, I can describe our life as Palestinian refugees in Lebanon!

Our story began since our land was lost between the crazy circumstances, and then, we were thrown in the land of being a refugee, which is the land of death.

We, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, are living a life emptied from all the basic human rights; going to public schools, going to public hospitals, working, .. We are living in camps that miss electricity, water … The kids are born to be refugees without knowing why, they are only victims paying their life for problems were put in.

We are people who want peace and life, we don’t want to die. It is not fair. We came to life to live and struggle to lead a good life, away from war and fear. So can’t you help? 

Our teenagers are running from their death, seeking life. They only want life in another land. A life with the smile of happiness on its face. God gave the humans a big land, this land is for everyone wanting peace. 

Please, this is a message from a child wanting peace, help us, do not deport Palestinians back to suffering, and don’t allow death to attack us while we are living, we all belong to God, and God doesn’t want this to happen. Take the tear from our eyes, and replace it with a smile that our heart and mind miss!

Shaker Khazal



The story of Rafat, Palestinian from a refugee camp in Occupied Palestine

My suffering is long, painful, and continuous, especially in the last decade where life became very difficult and full of dangers every step of the road. Simply, the human being’s life is unsecured and in danger even inside his own home, especially for us as residents of area “C” which is under full Israeli military control.

During the first Intifada, I was riding my bicycle and going back home to Al-Fawar refugee camp (Hebron) where I live with my family. At the camp outskirts, Israeli soldiers stopped me and interrogated me. Then they ordered me to climb a high voltage power post and take down a Palestinian flag from the top of that post. I refused to do so because of my incapability of climbing the post and because of the danger the high voltage might impose on my life. At that point all the soldiers started beating me, kicking me at once in all and every part of my body with no discrimination. One of them started pulling me from my hair with my face downward and kept pulling toward their armed vehicle. During that, a sharp object hit me in the left side of my face, causing a deep 13 cm long cut. I started bleeding and lost a lot of blood which covered my face, head and clothes. The soldiers left me alone on the road side after half an hour of continuous bleeding under a hot sun.

My suffering continued in attempts to provide the necessary supplies for my family since I am the only person to provide for them as my father is sick and unable to work since 1993. I worked in a bookstore in Jerusalem. The 55 km distance, which in normal circumstances takes about an hour, always takes more than 3 hours (each way) because of the many military checkpoints and sand shelters. This is in addition to the expected interrogations, beatings, and arrest, which could be for no reason but depending on the situation and the mood of the soldier at the checkpoint in that specific day. I would be very reasonable if I say that I might be arrested, beaten, interrogated, or even killed if the soldier mood is not that good due to an argument with his girlfriend that day. And this is what happened to me last year when I was stopped among four others at a stationary checkpoint for Israeli army near Bethlehem. After keeping us for 3 hours in the hot sun, my cellular phone (which belongs to the company I work for) rang, the owner is trying to find out why I am late. When I started talking to him, a soldier slammed me, causing the phone to fall from my hand. When I tried to pick it up, many soldiers started beating me and ordered me to get inside their armed vehicle. At that point I refused to do so because I was afraid of them taking me to a rural area and killing me or at least breaking my bones (since it happens many times with other people). They kept beating me over and over until I lost consciousness and I woke up in the hospital.

I experienced many examples of suffering on almost a daily basis and what I mentioned here is just a briefing of a number of examples.


"Stateless Palestinian refugee, detained and deported by Immigration Canada, imprisoned in the U.S. and back to the life of persecution in the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh!"


Ahmed Abdel Majeed is a stateless Palestinian refugee from the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh. Ahmed arrived in Canada on March 31st 2001 and claimed refugee status. He is now back in the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh after spending days in the Clinton County Jail in the U.S. 

After Ahmed was released from prison for a posting of $US 10,000 bond, he was then deported to the life of persecution in the refugee camp of Ein El Helweh, a life he has attempted to escape from over three years.

Ahmad was born stateless and unprotected, into the misery and hopelessness of a Palestinian refugee camp. He, amongst other Palestinian refugees, has no civil or political rights in Lebanon. He is barred from working in over 78 professions, cannot own or inherit property, is subject to I.D. checks every time he enters or exits the camp, and has no access to public healthcare or education.

Ahmed came to Canada looking for a life and a future. After struggling to stay in Canada, advocating for both himself and fellow Coalition members, he found himself in detention in Laval, in prison in the United States and finally back in the refugee camp he tried to escape.

In Canada, as a result of his refused refugee claim, Ahmed had been forced to live underground, without access to basic services such as health care and education. Ahmed remained in Canada due to well-founded fears of returning to that which he initially fled, a life of statelessness without any basic civil and human rights and facing daily dangers.

Ahmed's life inalterably changed when at around 10 a.m on Tuesday November 4th 2003 four Canadian Immigration agents picked him up, handcuffed him and took him to detention. Ahmed then called his fellow Coalition members, who immediately went to Citizenship & Immigration Canada's (CIC) main offices. They secured a meeting with René D'Aoust, Director of Investigations and Removals at CIC offices in Montreal.


In this meeting Mr. D'Aoust assured members of the Coalition that Ahmed would not be deported from Canada before 48 hours and that he would have his Detention Hearing.  Mr. D’Aoust told the members of the Coalition: "we are well aware we are not dealing with cargo here but with the lives of human beings". Unfortunately, Immigration Canada's actions with Ahmed Abdel-Majeed proved otherwise.

During Ahmed's detention, some MPs brought Ahmed's story to the attention of the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, Denis Coderre, hoping he might intervene to stop the deportation. The Minister, his parliamentary secretary, his assistant and several Immigration officials were asked to intervene to stay the deportation of Ahmed Abdel-Majeed. Ahmed was hoping even until the last seconds before his deportation that someone would intervene, but unfortunately, nobody did.

During his detention in Laval, Ahmed kept in constant contact with Coalition and community members. Wednesday evening, Ahmed was informed that he would have a detention hearing the next day, at 1 p.m. Ahmed passed this information along to Coalition members. Concerned for Ahmed's safety and the possibility of him being deported prior to his detention hearing, Coalition members gathered at 6 a.m. on Thursday November 6th 2003, to await Ahmed's phone call. He called confirming he would have his Detention Hearing at 1 p.m. that afternoon at the Immigration & Refugee Board (IRB).

At around 8:30 a.m. Ahmed called again, this time with good news: "he was being released". Five carloads of supporters drove to Laval Detention Center to greet Ahmed thinking that the Minister might have intervened. When they arrived, they were locked out of the Center. The Coalition waited quietly and peacefully in the parking lot for Ahmed for over 30 minutes. They received no phone calls and he did not appear. At this time 3 police cars and one police van arrived, and told Coalition members they must leave or face arrest. A representative of the Detention Center also came out and reconfirmed that Ahmed would be attending his Detention Hearing at 1 p.m.

At 12 p.m. Coalition members and supporters of Ahmed gathered at CIC offices, to stage a sit-in demanding a stay of deportation. At 1 p.m. 8 supporters and Ahmed's lawyer went to his detention hearing. When they arrived, they were informed Ahmed's trial had been cancelled, and he had been returned to Laval Detention Center.   Upon contacting the Laval Detention Center, the Coalition was told that Ahmed was 'somewhere else in Montreal.'  At this same time, Ahmed called and informed the Coalition that he was at the U.S. border. He had been deported while he, his lawyer and his supporters were repeatedly told that the deportation would not be taking place in the morning, and he would be attending the hearing at 1 p.m.  Ahmed's friends and supporters found out later that Ahmed did not misunderstand the Immigration officials but was in fact lied to by them and told that he was going to be released at that time.

At around 11 a.m. that day, Ahmed was told by Canadian Immigration officials that he was leaving Laval Detention Center to attend his bail hearing in downtown Montreal. Canadian Immigration officials and RCMP officers handcuffed Ahmed's wrists and ankles together, and fixed his seatbelt for the trip. Continuously, Ahmed asked the officials where he was being taken. Each time they answered Montreal. About 30 minutes later, Ahmed saw a sign for New York State. Panicked, he asked an agent why he wasn't going to his detention hearing in Montreal. The agent placed his finger to his lips, indicating for Ahmed to be quiet.


INS officials were waiting for Ahmed at the Champlain border, where he was taken and imprisoned in Clinton County Jail. INS places refugees in county jails with prisoners who have criminal charges, commissioning them 28 000 USD per inmate they hold/year. Ahmed, fleeing to Canada for asylum from persecution, found himself in jail in the USA, ultimately criminalized.

On Saturday, November 8, 2003, two members of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian refugees went to visit Ahmed Abdel Majeed in Clinton County Jail, Plattsburgh, USA. Ahmed was deported to the U.S. as it was his last port of entry to Canada (he came to Canada to apply for a refugee status through the U.S. where he had stayed only for a few weeks).

When Coalition members visited Ahmed that morning, he had come out in a bright orange prisoner jumpsuit. He had lost noticeable weight and looked as if he hadn't slept for days. Ahmed had yet to see an INS agent, was not aware of his rights, and felt he would be jailed indefinitely, as he is a 23 year old, single, Palestinian & Muslim male.

Had Coalition members not been able to pay for the $10,000 US bond, Ahmed would have been held in the jail until his case was heard before an immigration judge (the date was unknown) at which time he would have been transferred to a another prison in the Buffalo area where there was a possibility he would remain in prison for weeks if not months. Ahmed also risked being deported administratively before this time. He was only allowed four visits per week, 30 minutes per visit. Nobody could call the prison to speak to him; he had to call people collect.

Ahmed's imprisonment had left him miserable and suspicious. After being repeatedly lied to by Canadian officials, Ahmed did not trust Immigration agents. He was desperate to leave prison, and Coalition members had been contacted by his family from overseas, sending him messages to stay strong and not accept deportation back to the persecutory conditions he fled from in Lebanon. Ahmed told one of the Coalition members in response to his family's plea: "I am grabbing on to Hope, like someone who is grabbing on to air". 

Ahmed was one of the most active members of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian refugees.  He strongly believed that if people in Canada knew about what they had to go through, it would only be a question of time until a just solution would be given by Immigration Canada. The day before his detention by Canadian Immigration officials, he told a friend: "I sense beautiful days coming ahead" in reference to a possible stay of their deportation. He was actually detained by Immigration officials while carrying petitions against their deportation, which he had been distributing.

The deception by Immigration agents, his detention and quick deportation only reaffirmed the lack of understanding and callousness of a system that claims to protect persecuted persons. Coalition and community members reaffirm their commitment to organize and fight for the regularization of the Palestinian refugees facing deportation.