“My homeland is not a suitcase and I am not a traveller,” wrote Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
But for many Palestinians living in the besieged homeland, the right to movement guaranteed in the University Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13) is just ink on paper.
I met last week in Beirut a Palestinian woman from Gaza who had spent four days trapped in a Cairo airport basement along with tens of others awaiting a visa.
Her ordeal began when she tried to exit Gaza. Hamas, which controls the border crossing with Egypt, assigns a person a particular day (usually a couple of weeks after applying) to travel.
Since one does not know exactly when that day is, it is often hard to calibrate one’s life.
Meral (not her real name) was invited to a media conference in Beirut whose sponsors had applied for a visa for her, which had not come on the day she was told she could travel.