Amnesty slams Lebanon for discrimination on Palestinians

Says government must take concrete steps to end all discrimination against Palestinian refugees and to protect their human rights.

October 18, 2007 20:52
2 minute read.
lebanon refugees 298

lebanon refugees 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

The Lebanese government must take concrete steps to end all discrimination against Palestinian refugees and to protect their human rights, Amnesty International said in a report launched in Beirut on Wednesday. Unlike refugees in Syria and Jordan, who have been largely integrated into society, Palestinians in Lebanon live under severe restrictions on work, travel and education. The 31-page report, "Exiled and Suffering: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon," examines the wide range of restrictions on Palestinians in the country, "60 years after they or their parents or grandparents fled to Lebanon during the events surrounding the creation of the State of Israel and the Arab-Israeli war of 1948," the London-based human rights organization said. "We urge the Lebanese government to take immediate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against Palestinian refugees in order to enable them to exercise their economic, social and cultural rights on the same basis as the rest of the population of Lebanon," an Amnesty spokesman said. "The continuing restrictions which deny Palestinian refugees access to their rights to work, education and adequate housing and health are wholly unjustified and should be lifted without further procrastination or delay." More than half of the 300,000 Palestinian refugees who reside in Lebanon live in 12 official Palestinian refugee camps, the report said. "The area of land allocated for these camps has remained largely unchanged since 1948 despite significant population growth," the report said. "In some households, families of 10 share a single room. They continue to be denied the right to adequate housing, due to unacceptable levels of habitability, restrictions on property ownership and, in camps in the south of Lebanon, unreasonable restrictions which have been imposed on their right to repair or improve their homes. Amnesty has documented cases of Palestinian refugees being intimidated, fined and detained simply for seeking to build a brick wall to protect their home from the elements." Palestinians face discrimination and marginalization in the labor market, according to the report. The lack of adequate employment prospects leads to a high drop-out rate for Palestinian schoolchildren, who also have limited access to public secondary education, the report said. The resultant poverty is exacerbated by restrictions placed on their access to social services. The report apportions some of the blame on Israel and the international community but does not mention Syria. And Amnesty said the current Lebanese government had gone further than its predecessors in addressing the restrictions on Palestinian refugees' rights, including by easing restrictions on efforts to improve housing conditions. The government has also indicated its interest in finding a solution for so-called non-ID Palestinians, estimated to be between 3,000-5,000 refugees who are not registered with either the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) or the Lebanese authorities, and whose conditions are the most precarious.

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