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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/15/16

Lebanon escalates its denial of civil rights for Palestinian Refugees

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The government of Lebanon continues depriving Palestinians of adequate housing. Inside the 12 camps, the very limited living space areas have not been enlarged during the past more than half a century whereas the camp population has nearly quadrupled. In many areas of the camps, sunlight is blocked and massive overcrowding cuts off ventilation. These results in high humidity indoors and many respiratory and related diseases. The narrow alley structure, the non-existence of public green areas or spaces for entertainment and the deteriorated infrastructure subject the social and security environment in the camps to breakdown. The spreading diseases create social problems, loss of human dignity and in many cases eliminate family privacy. Increasingly the camps suffer poor inadequate infrastructure for drinking water and sewage. High humidity, leakage, poor ventilation, and piled garbage near to the houses, there is increasingly an unhealthy environment with cases of serious thoracic and chronic diseases ever rising.

It has been almost a decade since the destruction of Nahr Al-Bared camp and the displacement of 4867 Palestinian families. Despite promises of rebuilding the camp allowing for the families to return two thirds of the camp is still rubble. As of July 2016 only 1321 persons have returned they are still squeezed into containers as "temporary" homes. In winters the metal containers are frozen below 0 degrees Centigrade while in summer they become nearly uninhabitable "ovens".

The Government of Lebanon is obliged, by international humanitarian law to help ease these conditions. But in reality the government of Lebanon is compounding the inhuman camp conditions by outlawing the entry of construction materials, tools and sanitation supplies into the camps. Lebanese politicians increasingly consider Palestinian refugees solely as a security problem. For example, even to be allowed to repair camp sewage lines, Lebanon's Army Intelligence (Deuxime Bureau) which led the post-1982 reign of terror against Palestinians (who were instantly stripped of the protection of the PLO when its leadership departed in August of 1982) must give its approval. These procedures largely block Palestinian refugee from repairing their houses, some of which have collapsed. Absence of support for the camps from neighboring municipalities to help repair the infrastructure is also causing the weakening the water and sanitation services and electricity.

Depriving Palestinian refugees displaced by Syria's civil war of basic shelter

Unlike other countries in the region, the Lebanese Government does not recognize Palestinians who fled for their lives from Syria as refugees in violation of virtually all principles, standards and rules of international law. Consequently approximately 50% are living rough in various 'gatherings' without any protection from the government and are sometimes subjected to abuse by land owners, municipalities' with randomly imposed 'regulations' as well as racist behavior of some residents of the area. Others are forced to crowd into Palestinian camps, which are already massively overpopulated with poor and ever deteriorating infrastructure while blocked from any judicial recourse or remedy. All in violation of the 1951 Refugee law which binds Lebanon based on international customary law.

Lebanon is now preventing Palestinian refugees from Syria who lost their identification documents due to civil war from seeking safety in Lebanon while at the same time prosecuting Palestinians from Syria who have entered Lebanon "illegally."

Lebanon deprives Palestinian refugees of the basic rights to public health services.

The Government of Lebanon deprives Palestinian refugees from Ministry of Public Health services including free hospitalization, drugs for chronic and even emergency medical services. This constitutes egregious rejection of its responsibilities as a refugee host country.

In addition, Lebanon discriminates against disabled Palestinian refugees denying them the rights of disabled Lebanese. This despite the fact that Lebanese law 220/2000 does not exclude the Palestinian refugees from the laws definition of "Disabled person" by limiting the services to only "Disabled Lebanese."

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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