Amnesty International has just published a series of reports on the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon since 1948. There is an argument that if Lebanon and other neigbhoring countries provide better conditions for the refugees, then Israel will ultimately benefit because the refugees will no longer need a home called Palestine to return to. Another recent Amnesty International story covers the predicament of Palestinian refugees in Iraq.
Unfortunately as things stand, the Palestinians really don’t have any friends or enemies to turn to. Here is the summary of the reports:
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon face discrimination in employment and a lack of access to adequate education and housing.
A new Amnesty International report: Exiled and Suffering: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, examines the wide range of restrictions that continue to impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.
More than half of the 300,000 Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon live in 12 official Palestinian refugee camps. The area of land allocated for these camps has remained largely unchanged since 1948 despite significant population growth. 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 and restrictions on property ownership.
In camps in the south of Lebanon, unreasonable restrictions have been imposed on refugees’ right to repair or improve their homes. Some refugees have been intimidated, fined and detained simply for seeking to build a brick wall to protect their home from the elements.
Palestinians continue to suffer discrimination and marginalization in the labour market, contributing to high levels of unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions.
The Lebanese authorities recently lifted a ban on 50 of the 70 jobs not permitted to Palestinians, but refugees continue to face obstacles finding employment in such jobs.
This lack of employment prospects has led to a high drop-out rate for Palestinian schoolchildren, who also have limited access to public secondary education. The resultant poverty is exacerbated by restrictions placed on their access to social services.
The Lebanese government must take concrete steps to end all forms of discrimination against Palestinian refugees and to fully protect and uphold their human rights.
The international community must also attempt to find a durable solution for refugees that fully respects and protects their human rights, including their right of return. This may involve providing financial and technical assistance to Lebanon, helping it provide the best possible human rights protection to its Palestinian refugee population.