Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

World is Silent as Lebanon Abuses Palestinian Refugees

January 9, 2014 8:11 am 5 comments

The Israel - Lebanese border. Photo: wiki commons.

From IPS:

Over the past year more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees have fled violence, chaos and destitution in Syria to seek sanctuary in Lebanon. The vast majority have found themselves living in dire poverty, and trapped in chronically insecure existence.

Denied assurances of legal residence many are unsure if and how they can continue to live in the country into the New Year.

“Who, I mean really who from the Palestinian families can pay 200 dollars for the papers for every family member? If the average family is five people, then that is 1,000 dollars. This is impossible as we know most Palestinian refugees are’t even sure how they are going to feed their children one day to the next,” Mahmoud Assir Saawi, president of the Council for Palestinian Refugees Fleeing from Syria told IPS.

Such sentiments are reiterated time and time again within the squalid camps and overcrowded ghettoes throughout Lebanon. Palestinians arriving from Syria find themselves in an administrative and bureaucratic morass hobbled by decades of troubled history and war that offers them scant security.

The presence of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon has always been a highly divisive issue, with many Lebanese blaming Palestinians for the role they played in the nation’s rancorous civil war from 1975 to 1990. The arrival of large communities of their compatriots this past year has further exacerbated existing fears and prejudices.

It is perhaps for this reason that the arriving Palestinians have been classified as “guests”, “migrants” or “displaced people”. To afford them the more apt title of “refugee” would bring with it legal obligations, most notably under the Geneva convention, which Lebanon would struggle to realise.

Fears of Palestinian, and even Syrian refugees settling in Lebanon permanently, and thus shifting the precarious sectarian balance within the country, are common and are regularly aired in the media and by politicians. As such the refugees’ status remains vulnerable and their sanctuary insecure.

Securing residency papers remains one of the biggest problems for Palestinian refugees from Syria. Upon arrival Palestinians fleeing war and hunger are only granted a one-week visa in Lebanon, which then must then extend.

Palestinian journalist Maher Ayoub from Yarmouk Camp in Damascus knows first hand about the vulnerability of life in Lebanon. On a recent trip to renew his papers he was ordered to leave the country within the week, despite assurances from the Lebanese government that it would not throw out any refugees.

Faced with incarceration in Lebanon or a perilous return to Syria, he has taken refuge in one of the Palestinian camps Lebanese security services are not allowed to enter under an agreement reached at the end of the civil war.

“Where can I go? What can I do? I have no options now,” Ayoub told IPS.

Many other Palestinian refugees distrustful of the security services or fearful of being unable to pay their annual visa renewal fees are seeking cover within the camps. The reality is a life of incarceration in chronically overcrowded hovels of destitutionwhere unemployment is rife.

“We know they are our brethren and we must help them but this is becoming untenable,” said Abu Ahmad, a Lebanese-Palestinian resident from Chatilla camp. “I used to get at least a week’s work every month but now there is nothing. Every day we are seeing problems in the camp because of the desperation and the lack of work. People are even starting to pull weapons on each other. We need more support.”

Has anyone condemned Lebanon for its policy of treating Palestinians from Syria worse than other Syrian refugees?

Has anyone condemned Lebanon for forcing the Palestinians to return to a war zone?

Has anyone condemned Lebanon for effectively imprisoning them in overcrowded camps that they cannot leave without fear of expulsion?

Nope, this story – like the story of Palestinians in Syria literally starving to death – is all but ignored by the people who love to condemn Israel for the smallest perceived offenses.

When you hear someone say they are “pro-Palestinian,” ask them exactly what they are doing for the Palestinian Arabs being oppressed in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. Where are their flotillas, their convoys, their art exhibits, their press releases, their letters to the editor, their church stunts?

Their silence explains exactly how “pro-Palestinian” they really are.

5 Comments

  • Gross hypocrisy among Western critics of Israel? Double standards to use against Israel. Selective reporting w/o analysis?

    Who could ever believe these charges?

  • I agree there is a serious double-standard in how Lebanon and Israel treat Palestinians living in their respective refugee camps but let’s not forget that Lebanon is being help captive by Hezbollah and we know what their agenda is. Even if the Lebanese would treat those in the camps a worse than Israel or the PA do, the fact that Hezbollah has infiltrated the Lebanese government is significant and I feel the blame should go to Hezbollah not the Lebanese who are in effect also victims.

  • The Lebanese have always treated the Palestinians as if they were subhuman.

    Please call it what it is: Arab Apartheid.

    • So how many did Israelis let in. I understand they pretty much control the west bank border also.

  • How about…you know let them go back to their homeland.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    Home of Freud and…Pita? Israelis Make Culinary Mark in Vienna

    JNS.org – Several Viennese Jews have made a lasting impact on the world. Sigmund Freud’s investigations changed the face of modern psychology. Composer Arnold Schoenberg’s innovations in atonal music changed the face of music. These days, even more Jews — in particular, Israeli Jews — are changing the face of Vienna’s culinary scene with innovations in…the art of the pita. Freudians may find a psychoanalytic motive for the local appeal of the Israeli eateries popping up in the Austrian capital. Walk […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    In Iraqi Kurdistan, a Genocide Before Our Very Eyes

    The two bullet casings are already beginning to rust. Sheikh Nasser Pasha plucks them from the ground. “Look, one is from an AK-47, one from an American M-4.” The casings are strewn on the ground atop a long mound of dirt with a few bits of white sticks on it. It would appear unremarkable if one were walking by it. A closer look, however, reveals the white objects are pieces of human bone: arms, legs, and a single human skull. […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →