Maldives can assist displaced Palestinian refugees: Speaker

The Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has stated that the Maldives can play a significant role in easing the plight being experienced by Palestinian refugees.

Villingili MP Saud Ibrahim during Monday’s parliamentary sitting proposed a motion to declare the Maldives' stance on the Palestine issue to the international community. During the preliminary debate on the motion, several members spoke on what can be done by the Maldives government to assist the Palestinians, while others questioned if the government can help them in any way.

Speaker Nasheed said there are many ways the Maldives can work to help Palestine. He added that the people of the Maldives and the parliament members should prioritise the matter. The former president noted that the Palestinian people are mostly displaced refugee. However, several refugees are skilled people with many talents. Among the refugees are teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, and those educated in technical fields, said Nasheed.

Palestinian nationals need housing, employment, and a life that will enable access to essential services, and they have been pleading several nations for such assistance, added President Nasheed.

“The Palestine nationals are deprived of shelter, electricity, drinking water, health, education, and employment. Several people are struggling in various corners of the globe seeking those services,” said Speaker Nasheed.

Nasheed questioned if there would be a reason for Maldivians to get enraged if the Palestinians work in the Maldives and making arrangements for them to stay in the country permanently.

“What comes to my mind is, if a Palestinian doctor, or engineer, works in Funadhoo, Lhaimagu [a Maldivian island], will the people of the community be upset about it?,” asked Nasheed.

The Speaker further said debating on the proposal should not be done with a political intention but must be carried out to seek a constructive solution for the matter.

While Nasheed has said what the Palestinian nationals are in need of housing and the Maldives can assist on the matter, the amendment to Maldives Immigration Act has been forwarded for parliament Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations’ decision. He proposed an amendment to the clause of residential visa which he later denied, stating that it was a member's opinion that he forwarded to the commitee.