Saturday, August 15, 2020

Palestinians protest in Lebanon against discriminatory policies

By F.T Hupsel - July 24, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [refugees]

Thousands of Palestinian refugees protested last week in the streets of Beirut against the decision from the Lebanon’s Labour Ministry to enforce the requirement of work permits to obtain employment.

Critics have said the measure was essentially meant to target Syrians who have fled the war and are increasingly numerous inside Lebanon, but Palestinian refugees also fear they will be affected.

Palestinians and Lebanese activists regard these laws as discriminatory.

Last month, the ministry granted companies a 30-day deadline to acquire the newly mandatory work permits. After the time period expired last week, the ministry started the promised inspections, closing down establishments who were not following the new requirements properly.

Following the protests, Lebanese Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri, announced that Palestinians are not being included in restrictions placed on foreign workers in the country.

Initially, Labour Minister Camille Abousleiman denied the inspections had overwhelmingly affected Palestinians but as reported by Haaretz, Abousleiman reversed his decision.

“Of the 550 violations registered since last Wednesday, only two concerned large companies owned by Palestinians,” he said. “The Palestinian reaction is incomprehensible,” Abousleiman added.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon rejected what they called 'deceptive’ rumours about easing of employment restrictions in Lebanon and have been told to prepare for a “Day of Anger” on Friday 26 July, in order to reinforce their stance and demands. 

According to Al Jazeera, the Palestinian Authority is holding talks with the Lebanese government to resolve the issue, while Hamas, also sent a high-level delegation to Beirut on Friday 19 July to meet Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri.

During a Fatah meeting in Ramallah, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stressed that recent developments in Lebanon regarding Palestinian refugees should be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

“We do not want any tensions or escalation with Lebanon, and we want to foil any attempt by anyone who wants to destroy the excellent relations between us and our brothers in Lebanon,” Abbas said.

According to a report published by Lebanon’s Central Administration of Statistics in 2017, around 175,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, most of them in 12 refugee camps, 

In 2010, Lebanon’s parliament revoked a ban that had barred them from dozens of professions for years, restricting them to jobs in fields such as construction and farming but Palestinians are still not permitted to work in about 70 major professions such as medicine, law, engineering among others. 

Because they are not formally citizens of another state, Palestinian refugees are unable to claim the same rights as other foreigners living and working in Lebanon such as travelling abroad, owning houses, joining unions among other rights denied.

Palestinians started fleeing to Lebanon with the creation of Israel in 1948, their presence has been highly disputable, with many blaming them for the start of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

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