Palestinian refugees’ work situation in Lebanon

Mechanic shop in Borj al Shamali camp

450000 palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and many are living in the country’s 12 official refugee camps. Palestine refugees represent an estimated ten percent of the population in Lebanon but they do not enjoy several important rights. For example, they can not work in as many as 36 professions. Because of the principle of reciproicity, Palestinian refugees are unable to claim the same rights as other foreigners who are living and working in Lebanon. In Syria and Jordan they have more rights than those living in Lebanon. To clarify, in Jordan they give them the jordian nationality and in Syria, even if they do not give them the nationality, they give them the civil rights that allow them to do any job.

The history of Palestinian refugees interaction with restrictive employment policies in Lebanon dates back to the period preceding the Lebanese Civil War. It started in 1964, when the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs proposed Ministeral Decree No. 17561 to orgnize the participation of foreigners in the lebanese labour market.

Lebanese labour law, pertaining foreign workers, is centered around two main principles: the principle of reciprocity and the requirement to obtain a work permit. The principle of reciprocity, that is valid all over the world, is not applied for Palestinian people, because the lebanese government consider them without a homeland. While to get the work permit, first the employer needs to give them the permission and then they need to go to the NSSF (National Social Security Fund) to get approved it. The problemi is that, most of the times the NSSF don’t release this permit: for example in 2016 it gave less than 800 permits. Moreover they are valid for just one year. How can palestinian in Lebanon face this problem if the one who should help, is forgetting about them?

Hadeel Abdallah – Suaad Rmayed – Batoul Hamdan

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