Lebanon: New report demands end to discrimination against country's Palestininan refugees

150,000 in refugee camps, families of 10 share a single room, punishments for building a wall

Amnesty International is calling for an end to discrimination against Lebanon’s 300,000 refugees today, as it releases a new report showing that Palestinian refugees in the country continue to suffer widespread discrimination over jobs, health, housing and education.

The 24-page report, “Exiled and Suffering: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon”, launched this morning at a press conference in Beirut, examines the wide range of restrictions that continue to affect hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, 60 years after they or their parents or grandparents fled to Lebanon after the creation of the state of Israel and the Arab-Israeli war.

Amnesty International 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.

"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 in Lebanon live in 12 official Palestinian refugee camps, even though land allocated for these camps has remained largely unchanged since 1948 despite significant population growth. In some households, families of 10 have to share a single room.

As the reports shows, thousands of Palestinians are denied the right to adequate housing: with unacceptable levels of habitability, restrictions on property ownership and, in camps in the south of Lebanon, unreasonable restrictions on the right to repair or improve their homes. Amnesty International 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 continue to suffer discrimination and marginalisation in the labour market, contributing to high levels of unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions. While the Lebanese authorities recently lifted a ban on 50 of the 70 jobs restricted to them, Palestinians still face obstacles in actually finding employment. A lack of adequate employment prospects has led to a high drop-out rate for Palestinian schoolChildren's rights, who also have limited access to public secondary education. Resultant poverty has been exacerbated by restrictions placed on Palestinians’ access to social services.

Amnesty International said:

"We recognise that the Lebanese authorities and people have accommodated hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees for almost six decades and the significant cost - economically and in other ways - this has imposed on Lebanon.

“We recognise also that the responsibility for the suffering of Palestinian refugees extends beyond Lebanon and lies also with Israel and the international community, which has, for nearly 60 years, failed to find a durable solution for the plight of Palestinian refugees or to adequately protect their rights as refugees. However, the Lebanese government has the obligation to immediately end all forms of discrimination against Palestinian refugees and fully respect their human rights.”

Amnesty International is calling on the international community to make all necessary efforts to find a durable solution for Palestinian refugees that fully respects and protects their human rights, including their right of return, including providing financial and technical assistance to Lebanon to enable it to extend the highest possible level of human rights protection to its Palestinian refugee population.

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