Palestinians in Lebanon

Palestinians in Lebanon include the Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon during the 1948 Palestine War, their descendants, the Palestinian militias which resided in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, and Palestinian nationals who moved to Lebanon from countries experiencing conflict, such as Syria. There are roughly 3,000 registered Palestinians and their descendants who hold no identification cards, including refugees of the 1967 Naksa. Many Palestinians in Lebanon are refugees and their descendants, who have been barred from naturalisation, retaining stateless refugee status. However, some Palestinians, mostly Christian women, have received Lebanese citizenship, in some cases through marriage with Lebanese nationals.

Palestinians in Lebanon
الفلسطينيون في لبنان
Total population
174,422 (2017 census)[1] – 475,075 (registered) (2019 UNRWA figure)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Greater Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli, Beqaa Valley
Languages
Arabic (Palestinian Arabic, Lebanese Arabic), English
Religion
Majority Sunni Islam. Minority: Orthodox and Catholic Christians

In 2017, a census by the Lebanese government counted 174,000 Palestinians in Lebanon.[3] Estimates of the number of Palestinians in Lebanon ranged from 260,000 to 400,000 in 2011.[4]Human Rights Watch estimated 300,000 in 2011.[5] The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) counted 475,075 registered Palestine refugees as of 31 December 2019.[2] As part of its 2021 crisis response, UNRWA, estimated 180,000 Palestinian residents of Lebanon plus 27,700 Palestinian residents of Syria.[6]

Most Palestinians in Lebanon do not have Lebanese citizenship and therefore do not have Lebanese identity cards, which would entitle them to government services, such as health and education. They are also legally barred from owning property[7] or entering a list of desirable occupations.[8] Employment requires a government-issued work permit, and, according to the New York Times in 2011, although "Lebanon hands out and renews hundreds of thousands of work permits every year to people from Africa, Asia and other Arab countries... until now, only a handful have been given" to Palestinians.[4] Palestinians in Lebanon also have to heavily rely on the UNRWA for basic services such as healthcare and education, because they are not granted much access to the social services the Lebanese government provides.[9] This reliance on healthcare and education does not guarantee that this reliance has always been visible, often times UNRWA for instance was not allowed to enter certain areas, this was especially the case when tensions were high.[10] Nonetheless, while UNRWA currently is allowed to enter inside these camps, many critique the manner in which UNRWA operates, they point out towards the lack of basic healthcare or any other form of relief inside these Palestinian camps.[11] In February 2011, a decree was signed by Boutros Harb, the caretaker labor minister of Lebanon, on carrying out labor law amendments from August 2010. If these labor law amendments go into effect, it will make it easier for work permits to be acquired by Palestinians.[needs update] The amendments are seen as "the first move to legalize the working status of Palestinians since the first refugees arrived, fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war".[4]

In 2019, Minister of Labor Camille Abousleiman instituted a law that Palestinian workers must obtain a work permit,[12] under the justification that Palestinians are foreigners in Lebanon despite their long-standing presence. Palestinians are in a 'grey area' of Lebanon's labor laws: although they are categorized as foreigners, they are excluded from the rights foreigners enjoy, and their rights as refugees are not fairly protected. The ruling catalyzed a swell of frustration and protests across the Palestinian camps in Lebanon.[13] Activists claimed the law unfairly targeted Palestinian refugees, and would narrow down an already limited set of employment opportunities.[14]

DefinitionEdit

UNRWA defines a Palestinian refugee as "any person whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period June 1, 1946 to May 15, 1948. And who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict." Descendants of male refugees are also able to register with UNRWA.

Palestinians in Lebanon include Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA and the Lebanese authorities, Palestinian refugees registered only with the Lebanese authorities, and Non-ID Palestinians.[15] According to the 2017 - 2021 Lebanon crisis response plan, there are an estimated 3000 to 5000 Non-ID Palestinians who reside in Lebanon. Some of whom were previously registered as UNRWA refugees in Egypt and Jordan, but now hold expired, unrenewable or unrecognizable identity cards by the respective issuing authorities. Non-ID Palestinians also refer to members of the PLO, who came to Lebanon following Black September. Non-ID Palestinians are able to obtain temporary identification papers by the Lebanese government, although these must be renewed yearly and are subject to conditions, such as inability to register formalities such as marriage, divorce and death.

As a result of the Syrian civil war, 44,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria fled to Lebanon.[16] Recent figures in the 2017-2021 Lebanon crises response plan places the number at 29,000.

DemographicsEdit

Estimates of the number of Palestinians in Lebanon ranged from 260,000 to 400,000 in 2011.[4] In 2018 Human Rights Watch estimated 174,000 "longstanding" Lebanese refugees and 45,000 Lebanese refugees more recently displaced from Syria.[17]

The UNRWA counted 475,075 registered Palestine refugees as of 1 Jan 2019 in its twelve refugee camps in Lebanon.[2] In 2017, a Lebanese government census counted 174,000 Palestinians in Lebanon.[3]

Distribution of the Palestinian refugee population by regions in 2017, including Palestinian refugees of Lebanon (PRL) and Palestinian refugees of Syria (PRS) [18]
Region Population of PRL Population of PRS Total population Share of the total
North 41,495 3,859 45,354 24.7%
Beirut 22,149 1,619 23,768 13%
Mount Lebanon 11,752 1,978 13,730 7.5%
Saida 59,201 5,550 64,751 35.3%
Tyre 24,410 2,706 27,116 14.8%
Beqaa 6,542 1,994 8,536 4.7%
Total 165,549 17,706 183,255 100%

Legal statusEdit

NationalityEdit

Most Palestinians in Lebanon are stateless. They are not entitled to Lebanese citizenship, though most were born in Lebanon and irrespective of how many generations their families have lived in Lebanon. Some Palestinians, mostly Palestinian Christian women, have received Lebanese citizenship through marriage with a Lebanese national, and some by other means.[19] (Lebanese nationality law does not provide for a Lebanese wife conferring Lebanese nationality to a foreign husband or to a child with a foreign father.)

During the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1994, the government naturalized over 154,931 foreign residents of Palestinian (mostly Palestinian Christians) and Syrian (mostly Syrian Sunnis and Christians) descent.[19] It was argued that the purpose of these naturalizations was to sway the elections to a pro-Syrian government.[20] This allegation is based on how these new citizens were bussed in to vote and displayed higher voting rates than the nationals did.[19]

Other restrictionsEdit

 
Mar Elias Refugee Camp, Beirut

Without citizenship, Palestinians in Lebanon do not have Lebanese identity cards, which also entitles the holder to health care, education and other government services. Palestinians living in and outside the 12 official camps, can receive health care, education and other social services from UNRWA.[21] According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in "appalling social and economic conditions."

Following a 2001 amendment on foreign ownership of property, which stated that the foreign person must hold the citizenship of an internationally recognized country, Palestinian refugees came to be excluded from land and property ownership. Non-citizen Palestinians are legally barred from owning property,[7] and barred from entering a list of liberal professions.[8]

Employment requires a government-issued work permit, and, according to the New York Times, although "Lebanon hands out and renews hundreds of thousands of work permits every year to people from Africa, Asia and other Arab countries... until now, only a handful have been given" to Palestinians.[4] They labor under legal restrictions that bar them from employment in at least 39 professions, "including law, medicine, and engineering," a system that relegates them to the black market for labor. According to the 2017 census conducted by the Lebanese government, more than 90% of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are informally employed.

In 2016, Lebanese authorities began constructing a concrete wall with watch towers around the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.[22] The wall has faced some criticism, being called "racist" by some and supposedly labeling residents as terrorists or islamists.[23] As of May 2017, the wall construction was nearing completion.[24][25]

For travel abroad non-citizen Palestinian residents of Lebanon can obtain travel documents that serve in place of passports.[26] Travellers who hold only a Palestinian passport are refused entry to Lebanon.[27]

Social statusEdit

 
Refugee camp of El Buss

Palestinians in Lebanon also have to heavily rely on UNRWA for basic services such as health care and education, because they do not have much access to the social services the Lebanese government provides.[9] In February 2011, a decree was signed by Boutros Harb, the caretaker labor minister (of Lebanon), on carrying out labor law amendments from August 2010. If these labor law amendments go into effect, it will make it easier for work permits to be acquired by Palestinians. The amendments are seen as "the first move to legalize the working status of Palestinians since the first refugees arrived, fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war".[4]

Share of Palestinian refugees by employment status for individuals aged 15 and above[18]
Activity status Female Male Total
Employed 11.9% 59% 35.3%
Unemployed 4.5% 12.5% 8.5%
Inactive (not looking for a job) 83.6% 28.5% 56.2%
 
Street in Ain El helweh

Israeli Arab journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh accused Lebanon of practicing apartheid against Palestinian Arabs who have lived in Lebanon as stateless refugees since 1948.[28][29][30] According to Human Rights Watch, "In 2001, Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, a right they had for decades. Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in many areas. In 2005, Lebanon eliminated a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions, provided they obtain a temporary work permit from the Labor Ministry, but more than 20 high-level professions remain off-limits to Palestinians. Few Palestinians have benefited from the 2005 reform, though. In 2009, only 261 of more than 145,679 permits issued to non-Lebanese were for Palestinians. Civil society groups say many Palestinians choose not to apply because they cannot afford the fees and see no reason to pay a portion of their salary toward the National Social Security Fund, since Lebanese law bars Palestinians from receiving social security benefits."[31]

In one of his series of articles accusing the government of Lebanon of practising "apartheid" against the resident Palestinian community, Toameh described the "special legal status" as "foreigners" assigned uniquely to Palestinians, "a fact which has deprived them of health care, social services, property ownership and education. Even worse, Lebanese law bans Palestinians from working in many jobs. This means that Palestinians cannot work in the public services and institutions run by the government such as schools and hospitals. Unlike Israel, Lebanese public hospitals do not admit Palestinians for medical treatment or surgery."[32] Journalist Ben-Dror Yemini describes Palestinians in Lebanon as living "under various restrictions that could fill a chapter on Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. One of the most severe restrictions is a ban on construction. This ban is enforced even in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, bombed by the Lebanese army in 2007.[33] Calling on Lebanon to change the systematic discrimination against his people, Palestinian journalist Rami George Khouri compared Lebanese treatment of Palestinians to the "Apartheid system" of South Africa.[34]

Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon contain armed groups which sometimes deal in illegal drugs, and that would cause infighting among the rivals. In June 2020, a woman was shot dead in the Shatila refugee camp as she was walking on the street carrying her child during a shooting exchange between rival gangs.[35]

Sectarian tensionsEdit

 
Destruction at Nahr al-Bared, 2007

Due to sectarian tensions carried from the civil war, some discriminatory social attitudes are still held towards Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. These attitudes, are further complicated by Lebanon's delicate sectarian makeup.

Despite the annulment of the 1969 Cairo Agreement,[36] the Lebanese army does not enter the 12 camps, based on an informal understanding between the Palestinian factions and the Lebanese army. There exists some cooperation between the Palestinian factions and Lebanese army.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Palestinians in Lebanon less than half previous estimate, census shows". Middle East Eye.
  2. ^ a b c UNRWA - Where We Work - Lebanon, accessed December 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Lebanon conducts first-ever census of Palestinian refugees". Jordan Times. AFP. December 21, 2017. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wood, Josh (March 2, 2011). "The Palestinians' Long Wait in Lebanon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  5. ^ Human Rights Watch [1] "World Report 2011: Lebanon" accessed April 7, 2011.
  6. ^ Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, p.9
  7. ^ a b El Hachem, Khalil (October 17, 2020). "Les Palestiniens et le droit à la propriété foncière au Liban : quand être propriétaire est un crime" (PDF). Béryte (in French). 33: 25–37.
  8. ^ a b Butters, Andrew Lee (February 25, 2009). "Palestinians in Lebanon: A Forgotten People". Time magazine. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  9. ^ a b Howe, Marvine (2005). "Palestinians in Lebanon" (PDF). Middle East Policy. 12 (4): 145–155. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4967.2005.00231.x.
  10. ^ "coaccess". apps.crossref.org. doi:10.2307/j.ctv64h7gx. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  11. ^ "coaccess". apps.crossref.org. doi:10.2307/j.ctv64h7gx. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  12. ^ Younes, Ali. "Palestinians in Lebanon protest crackdown on unlicensed workers". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  13. ^ Kortam, Marie (2019-08-14). "Lebanon: Anger in Palestinian Refugee Camps Gives Rise to a New Movement for Dignity". Arab Reform Initiative.
  14. ^ Younes, Ali. "Why Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are protesting". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  15. ^ "Palestinian Refugee". www.lpdc.gov.lb. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  16. ^ Beydoun, Zahraa; Abdulrahim, Sawsan; Sakr, George (2021-12-01). "Integration of Palestinian Refugee Children from Syria in UNRWA Schools in Lebanon". Journal of International Migration and Integration. 22 (4): 1207–1219. doi:10.1007/s12134-020-00793-y. ISSN 1874-6365. PMC 7780595. PMID 33424442.
  17. ^ Rights Trends in Lebanon (Report). World Report 2019. Human Rights Watch. 2018-12-17. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  18. ^ a b Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Central Administration of statistics, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2019). The Population and Housing Census in Palestinian Camps and Gatherings - 2017, Detailed Analytical Report, Beirut, Lebanon. http://www.lpdc.gov.lb/DocumentFiles/8-10-2019-637068152405545447.pdf
  19. ^ a b c Sensenig-Dabbous, Eugene; Hourani, Guita (2011-07-04). "Naturalized Citizens: Political Participation, Voting Behavior, and Impact on Elections in Lebanon (1996–2007)". Rochester, NY. SSRN 2211536. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "Is Syria Meddling in Lebanon Again?". The Century Foundation. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  21. ^ "Lebanon". UNRWA. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  22. ^ Security wall, watchtowers to surround Ain al-Hilweh, Daily Star, November 2016
  23. ^ Lebanon freezes plan for Ain al-Hilweh's 'racist wall', AlJazeera, November 2016
  24. ^ Ain al-Hilweh wall nearly completed, Daily Star, Feb 2017
  25. ^ Ain al-Hilweh wall construction at tough area, Daily Star, May 2015
  26. ^ Yan, Victoria; Darwish, Hasan (November 18, 2016). "Biometric Documents for Palestinians". The Daily Star (Lebanon). Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  27. ^ Travel Information Manual, International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  28. ^ Kahled Abu Toameh "Where’s the international outcry against Arab apartheid?," March 17, 2011, Jerusalem Post.
  29. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh "Where Is The Outcry Against Arab Apartheid?", Hudson Institute, March 11, 2011
  30. ^ Adia Massoud "Left in Lebanon," The Guardian, May 25, 2007
  31. ^ Human Rights Watch [34] "Lebanon: Seize Opportunity to End Discrimination Against Palestinians; Remove Restrictions on Owning Property and Working" June 18, 2010
  32. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh , "What About The Arab Apartheid?" March 16, 2010, Hudson Institute
  33. ^ Ben-Dror Yemini, Jerusalem Post, "The humanitarian show," July 7, 2010.
  34. ^ Rami Khouri, Lebanon's Palestinians, Agence Global, June 30, 2010.
  35. ^ "وفاة سيدة في مقتبل العمر في حادث إطلاق نار بين مروجي مخدرات في شاتيلا (فيديو)". Lebanon 24 (in Arabic). 7 June 2020.
  36. ^ "the Cairo Agreement". UNRWA. Retrieved 2021-11-22.