Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 October 2014, 14:56 GMT

Lebanon: Treatment of Palestinian refugees, including information on identity documents, mobility rights, property rights, access to social services, education and employment, and living conditions

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 15 November 2011
Citation / Document Symbol LBN103848.E
Related Document Liban : traitement réservé aux réfugiés palestiniens, y compris concernant les pièces d'identité, la liberté de circulation, les droits de propriété, l'accès aux services sociaux, à l'éducation et à l'emploi, ainsi que les conditions de vie
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lebanon: Treatment of Palestinian refugees, including information on identity documents, mobility rights, property rights, access to social services, education and employment, and living conditions, 15 November 2011, LBN103848.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/507553bd2.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as of June 2011, there were 433,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (UN n.d.c). UNRWA estimates that the number of Palestinian refugees actually residing in Lebanon is between 260,000 and 280,000 (ibid.). Sources indicate that Palestinian refugees make up approximately 10 percent of Lebanon's population (MRG July 2011, 224; The Palestine Chronicle 1 Apr. 2010).

UNRWA states that approximately 62 per cent of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee population lives in 12 camps, while the rest live in "gatherings" (UN n.d.c). These "gatherings" are unofficial settlements (ibid.). The UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) states that Palestinian refugees also live in cities and towns (UN 4 Oct. 2010).

Sources indicate that Lebanon has not ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor the 1967 Protocol (EU 25 May 2011, 5; UN 4 Oct. 2010). According to IRIN, this results in the absence of legislation or administrative practices that address the needs of refugees (ibid.).

Treatment of Palestinians

The US Department of State indicates that there is "widespread and systematic discrimination" against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (8 Apr. 2011, 1). According to The Palestine Chronicle, an independent online newspaper that focuses on Palestine, Israel and the Middle East (The Palestine Chronicle n.d.), the former Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Dr. Ali Chami, stated that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are "in complete misery and a very dire situation" (quoted in The Palestine Chronicle 1 Apr. 2011). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (Centre libanais des droits humains, CLDH), a Lebanese non-political human rights organization that monitors the human rights situation, provides rehabilitation to victims of torture, and "fights against enforced disappearance, impunity, arbitrary detention, and racism," stated that Palestinian refugees should be considered "a vulnerable group" and indicated that they experience "discrimination and racism" (CLDH 5 Oct. 2011). The Associated Press (AP) corroborates that Palestinian refugees "face deep prejudice from many Lebanese" (17 Aug. 2010).

According to the President of the CLDH, Palestinians are more at risk of "arbitrary detention," "torture," and "kidnapping" (5 Oct. 2011). The US Department of State corroborates that Palestinian refugees are arrested arbitrarily and detained by state security forces and rival Palestinian factions (8 Apr. 2011, 10). The President of the CLDH states that arbitrary detention is conducted by the Lebanese security and judiciary systems (CLDH 5 Oct. 2011). Also, according to the President, Palestinian refugees are unable to access free legal aid (ibid.). The President of the CLDH indicated that when a Palestinian refugee has completed a sentence or has been declared innocent, an arbitrary detention and investigation period by the general security service is conducted before he or she is released (ibid.). According to the European Commission, refugees subjected to arbitrary detention face "very poor conditions" (EU 25 May 2011). The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) states that violence is common during interrogations, arrests, and in detention facilities (USCRI 2009). The USCRI also states that in October 2008, human rights organizations identified several Palestinian detainees who died in Lebanese custody either at the hands of guards, or due to negligence or lack of medical care (ibid).

When referring to torture, the President of the CLDH stated that Palestinians are generally treated "more harshly" than Lebanese citizens by security services due to reasons including "racism and discrimination," and the assumption, "often without basis," that the refugee collaborates with an armed group (CLDH 5 Oct. 2011).

In reference to kidnappings, the President of the CLDH stated that Palestinian refugees have been arrested and investigated by illegal armed groups in the refugee camps (ibid.). She specified that these kidnappings occur "without supervision of any official judiciary system" (ibid.).

In a keynote address to Exeter University, the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, and the European Centre for Palestine Studies, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UNRWA stated that "[i]n Lebanon, the refugees have experienced recurrent armed conflict and multiple displacements, most recently in 2007, and the specter of violence continues to stalk the twelve refugee camps" (quoted in States News Service 3 Dec. 2010). In 2007, a conflict between the Lebanese Army and a group called Fatah Al-Islam displaced 31,400 Palestinian refugees from the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, and destroyed 85 percent of the camp (BADIL 2010, 21, 33).

Sources indicate that Palestinians do not have basic social and economic rights (The Palestine Chronicle 1 Apr. 2011), political rights (US 8 Apr. 2011, 23), or civil rights (CLDH 5 Oct. 2011). The Palestine Chronicle states that according to a delegation of British and European parliamentarians, Lebanon's position on Palestinian refugees is "woefully inadequate" (1 Apr. 2011).

Citizenship and Identity Documents

Palestinian refugees are denied citizenship in Lebanon (MRG July 2011, 224; US 8 Apr. 2011, 20) and are considered to be foreign nationals (ibid.) or foreigners (BADIL 2009, 112; UN 2 Sept. 2010, para. 52). According to the US Department of State, Palestinian refugees receive "poorer treatment" than other foreign nationals (8 Apr. 2011, 20). The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights reports that only a "small number" of Palestinian refugees have acquired citizenship, mostly consisting of some Christian Palestinians "who were granted citizenship in the 1950s under the presidency of Camille Chamoun to keep the balance between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon" (BADIL 2009, 112, 139). According to The Daily Star, a newspaper and online news source of Lebanese and regional news (The Daily Star n.d.), on 28 June 2011, Prime Minister Najib Miqati restated that Lebanon rejects the naturalization of Palestinian refugees (ibid. 29 June 2011). The US Department of State notes that there is discrimination in birth registration, as children born to Palestinian refugees are not registered, denying them citizenship and limiting their access to public services (8 Apr. 2011, 21, 27).

According to the US Department of State, citizenship is only passed on by the father (US 8 Apr. 2011, 22). A Lebanese woman cannot pass her citizenship on to her spouse or children (MRG July 2011, 225; UN 28 Oct. 2010, para. 10). Children from mixed marriages consisting of a Lebanese mother and a Palestinian father do not have citizenship rights and are therefore stateless when they cannot be registered under their father's citizenship (US 8 Apr. 2011, 22, 27). In August 2009, after civil society campaigning, the Minister of Interior submitted a draft law to Cabinet allowing for citizenship to be passed on by Lebanese women (UN 28 Oct. 2010, para. 10). While, as of 28 October 2010, the draft law was awaiting approval, government representatives and politicians have proposed that it should not apply to Lebanese women who are married to Palestinian men (ibid.). Information on the status of the draft law could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to BADIL, "[t]he right to residency and travel of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is subject to arbitrary change, depending on political context" (BADIL 2009, 112). BADIL's Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons for 2008-2009 states that the validity of residency and travel documents at the time of the report was as follows:

Palestinian refugees who are registered with both UNRWA and the Department of Political Affairs and Refugees (DPAR) hold permanent residency cards and travel documents valid for five years. Those who are registered only with DPAR are issued the same residency card, but a different travel document (laissez-passer), which is valid for one year (ibid.,112)

BADIL's residency and travel documents information is corroborated by the USCRI (USCRI 2009). However, BADIL also indicates that the laissez-passer, which is valid for one year is renewable up to three times (BADIL 2009, 112). BADIL also states that according to sources, due to fears that new revisions to the law may occur, Palestinians are reluctant to travel abroad as their return to Lebanon is uncertain (ibid.).

BADIL indicates that Palestinian refugees who are not registered with DPAR or UNRWA are considered as "non-ID Palestinians" (ibid.). Sources place the number of non-ID Palestinians between 3,000 (UN 4 Oct. 2010; US 8 Apr. 2011, 22) and 5,000 (AFP 5 Dec. 2009). The Star, a weekly English-language newspaper in Jordan (EMIS n.d.), reports that according to the Director of the Palestinian Union for Refugees, "'[t]his group of refugees arrived to Lebanon after the 1967 exodus during which Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and after the events of Black September in 1970…'" (14 Dec. 2009). Agence France-Presse (AFP) corroborates that the majority of non-ID Palestinians arrived in Lebanon in the 1970s when Jordan expelled thousands of Palestinians and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (AFP 5 Dec. 2009). AFP also reports that Lebanon only recognizes as refugees those Palestinians who arrived in Lebanon when the state of Israel was created in 1948 (ibid.).

According to AFP and BADIL, non-ID Palestinians are considered to be illegal by the Lebanese government (ibid.; BADIL 2009, 112). Further, The Star indicates that non-ID Palestinians have a "non-existing legal status," and the Director of the Palestinian Union for Refugees specifies that non-ID Palestinians are not given refugee status or even status as illegal aliens (The Star 14 Dec. 2009). Due to this non-existing legal status, non-ID Palestinians do not have the right to work (ibid.; AFP 5 Dec. 2009). Non-ID Palestinians cannot access education (The Star 14 Dec. 2009; AFP 5 Dec. 2009) or medical services (ibid.). According to the Director of the Palestinian Union for Refugees, UNRWA "still failed to provide humanitarian living conditions to these people" (quoted in The Star 14 Dec. 2009). The US Department of State and AFP indicate that non-ID Palestinians were not eligible for receiving assistance from UNRWA (8 Apr. 2011, 22). Sources indicate that non-ID Palestinians are deprived of fundamental rights (US 8 Apr. 2011, 22; AFP 5 Dec. 2009; BADIL 2009, 112). According to AFP, non-ID Palestinians are considered as foreigners even inside Palestinian refugee camps (AFP 5 Dec. 2009).

Children of non-ID Palestinians inherit their parents' status (AFP 5 Dec. 2009). This includes children born from Lebanese mothers and non-ID Palestinian fathers, who are born without citizenship and rights (ibid.), and children born from UNRWA refugee mothers and non-ID Palestinian fathers, who cannot acquire refugee status (US 8 Apr. 2011, 22). Although the Lebanese authorities began issuing IDs for non-ID Palestinians in 2008, they are no longer valid (The Star 14 Dec. 2009), and the process was stopped in early 2009 (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011). According to the UN, the process of issuing IDs started again in 2010 (UN 2 Sept. 2010). In 2011, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) indicated that the process of issuing IDs was reinstated but that it is "very slow, inconsistent, and unsustainable" (CIHRS 25 Feb. 2011). The CIHRS also stated that there is a one-year expiry date for the IDs and "sometimes the process does not work" (ibid.).

Mobility Rights

Sources indicate that freedom of movement for Palestinian refugees is restricted (US 8 Apr. 2011, 17; IPS 19 Nov. 2010; The Palestine Chronicle 1 Apr. 2011). Inter Press Service (IPS) reports that, according to Noam Chomsky, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (MIT n.d.), "'Palestinians in Lebanon live encaged'" (14 June 2010). The UN states that the camps in Southern Lebanon are "besieged and fenced" (UN 28 Oct. 2010, para. 31). The CIHRS indicates that "[t]he entry to, and exit from, the southern camps is subject to registration by the Lebanese army after 9 pm" (CIHRS 25 Feb. 2011). According to the CIHRS, foreigners visiting these camps, including "foreigners of Palestinian origin," need a military access permit (ibid.). However, the US Department of State indicates that Palestinians registered with the Ministry of Interior's DPAR, may travel to another part of the country if DPAR the Directorate approves "transfer of registration" for Palestinian refugees living in camps, which is usually approved (US 8 Apr. 2011, 17). According to the USCRI, Palestinian refugees who live in camps located north of the Litani river must obtain written permission before being allowed to travel south (USCRI 2009).

The US Department of State indicates that Palestinian refugees living near the Nahr el-Bared camp have permanent permits that must be shown at the Lebanese Armed Forces checkpoint in order to enter the area (US 8 Apr. 2011, 17). Similarly, the CIHRS states that since 2007,

the Lebanese Army strictly controls the entry and exit of Palestinians to the [Nahr el-Bared] camp, including to the new camp - an area adjacent to the old camp area - where some refugees still live, and to which other refugees were displaced from the old camp area. (25 Feb. 2011)

The CIHRS also states that all Palestinian refugees and staff of humanitarian NGOs are required to produce a military permit to enter surroundings of the Nahr el Bared camp (25 Feb. 2011). According to The Daily Star, Nahr el-Bared camp has been under "strict military guard" since the conflict in 2007 (28 June 2010). IPS states that "[l]arge camps, such as Ain el-Helweh [also spelled Ein al Hilweh], Bedawi and Chatila, are guarded by the Lebanese military or police" (14 June 2010). The UN indicates that in 2009, the Lebanese army built a wall around the eastern side of Ain el-Helweh (UN 28 Oct. 2010, para. 31). On 19 November 2010, IPS reported that "most of the Palestinian camps are encircled by the Lebanese army" (19 Nov. 2010).

Sources indicate that non-ID Palestinians also do not have freedom of movement (The Star 14 Dec. 2009; US 8 Apr. 2011, 22; BADIL 2009, 112), and The Star reports that they cannot leave their camps (14 Dec. 2009). According to Human Rights Watch, non-ID Palestinians faced "constant fear of arrest" (24 Jan. 2011). The Star reports on repeated arrests of and insults towards non-ID Palestinians at checkpoints (14 Dec. 2009).

Property Rights

Palestinian refugees are prohibited from owning property (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21; BADIL 2009, 115). Social Anthropologist, Are Knudsen (CMI n.d.), explains that after the 1969 decree, Palestinians were able to acquire limited property (up to 3,000m2 in Beirut and 5,000m2 elsewhere) (Knudsen 2009, 64). However, the 1969 decree was amended in 2001 (amendment No. 296, dated 3 April 2001) (ibid.), prohibiting ownership to "'any person who does not hold citizenship from a recognized State or to any person where such ownership contravenes the provisions of the Constitution concerning naturalization" (CIHRS 25 Feb. 2011). The 2001 amendment also states that Palestinian refugees who had previously owned property before 2001 are not able to pass the property on to their children (Knudsen 2009, 65; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21), as the property of deceased Palestinian refugees is taken by the Lebanese government (BADIL 2009, 141). According to the US Department of State, these laws "do not explicitly target Palestinian refugees" (US 8 Apr. 2011, 21). However, according to Knudsen, "Palestinian refugees are the only foreigners not having a 'nationality of a recognized state'," and therefore the law "deliberately excluded Palestinians from owning, bequeathing, or even registering property" (Knudsen 2009, 65). In January 2011, Lebanon rejected UN Human Rights Council recommendations to allow Palestinians to own property (UN 12 Jan. 2011). According to the European Commission, by 25 May 2011, no progress had been made on the right of Palestinians to own property (EU 25 May 2011).

Social Services

Palestinian refugees do not have access to social services in Lebanon, and rely on UNRWA to provide such services (US 8 Apr. 2011, 21; UN n.d.a). The Daily Star reports that UNRWA's funds have been "slashed" and its standards are falling "at an alarming rate" (29 Oct. 2010).

Health care

Sources indicate that Palestinian refugees cannot access state medical facilities, and rely on UNRWA for health services (MRG July 2011, 224; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21; BADIL 2009, 115). According to an article published in the Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture, Lebanese hospitals often deny emergency services to Palestinian refugees (Ibrahim 2008, 86). Sources also state that 95 percent of Palestinian refugees do not have health insurance (MRG July 2011, 224-225; The Daily Star 28 Apr. 2011; UN n.d.c).

UNRWA provides basic primary health care, and financially assists refugees with the cost of secondary hospital care and partial tertiary care (UN n.d.a). According to UNRWA, the most pressing concern for refugees is the cost of hospitalization, as refugees usually cannot afford the cost of medical care and at times have to choose between not receiving medical treatment or "falling deeply into debt" (ibid.). UNRWA states that hospital care costs Palestinian refugees approximately $1,228 per household every year, which is not affordable to these families (UN n.d.c). An assessment of UNRWA's health care illustrated that tertiary care was "poorly covered" by UNRWA (UN n.d.d). UNRWA states that they are unable to fully cover tertiary care treatments as they usually cost more than US$10,000, but they are also "beyond the means of a population that suffers from endemic poverty and marginalization" (ibid.).

According to the International Crisis Group, the health care provided by UNRWA and other NGOs is affected by "substandard infrastructure and equipment" (19 Feb. 2009, 16). UNRWA indicates that there are only 5.5 hospital beds available for every 10,000 people (UN n.d.d). According to a Hamas official, Palestinian refugees stage regular sit-ins at UNRWA headquarters to protest the "shortage and decrease of UNRWA services of relief, health and education" (quoted in The Daily Star 28 Apr. 2011).

AFP indicates that non-ID Palestinians are unable to access public health care and health care services offered by UNRWA (AFP 5 Dec. 2009).

Education

Sources indicate that Palestinian refugees are prohibited from accessing public education (MRG June 2011, 224; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21; UN 28 Oct. 2011, 7). According to the report of the working group on the Universal Period Review for Lebanon, in 2011, Lebanon rejected a recommendation to provide "free education to all children of refugees" (UN 12 Jan. 2011, para. 82.28). UNRWA indicates that private education in Lebanon is usually not affordable to Palestinian refugees (UN 2011). Palestinian refugees rely on UNRWA schools for education (BADIL 2009, 114; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21). However, according to BADIL, access to high school and post-secondary education is "severely restricted," as UNRWA only has a "small number" of high schools and post-secondary training centres (BADIL 2009, 114). According to MRG, access to universities and vocational training centres is limited as there are quotas for foreign students in particular courses (MRG July 2011, 224). The UN notes that there are low enrolment rates of Palestinian refugees in secondary education (UN 2 Sept. 2010, 10). Palestinian refugee children often drop out of school early in order to earn an income (BADIL 2009, 114; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21). Child labour exists on a "wide scale" in and around Palestinian refugee camps (UN 2 Sept. 2010, para. 40), and 18 percent of street children in Lebanon are Palestinian refugees (UN 28 Oct. 2010, para. 37).

Non-ID Palestinians are unable to access education (The Star 14 Dec. 2009; AFP 5 Dec. 2009).

Employment

Sources indicate that an amended labour law was passed in August 2010 (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011; MRG July 2011, 224; US 8 Apr. 2011, 21), and implementing decrees were signed in February 2011 (EU 25 May 2011, 5). Sources state that the amended law:

  • Allows Palestinian refugees to work legally (MRG July 2011, 224).
  • Permits registered Palestinian refugees to work in any job open to foreigners (EU 25 May 2011). According to the US Department of State, Palestinian refugees must be registered with the Lebanese government to benefit from provisions of the new law (8 Apr. 2011, 21). IRIN states that these jobs must be in the private sector (UN 4 Oct. 2010).
  • Removes fees for work permits (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011; EU 25 May 2011).
  • Provides limited social security benefits (ibid.).
  • Enables Palestinian refugees who contributed to the National Social Security Fund to claim end-of-service benefits (EU 25 May 2011).

Sources indicate that the August 2010 amendment is still inadequate due to the following reasons:

  • Palestinian refugees are still prohibited from working in certain professions (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011; EU 25 May 2011; MRG July 2011, 224). According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees are restricted from working in 25 professions that require syndicate membership, such as law, medicine and engineering (24 Jan. 2011). MRG indicates that Palestinian refugees are banned from working in more than 30 professions (July 2011, 224). The European Commission indicates that Palestinian refugees are still restricted from working in regulated professions (EU 25 May 2011, 5), while the US Department of State indicates that Palestinian refugees are still not allowed to work in certain unionized professions (8 Apr. 2011, 32).
  • Palestinian refugees are still prohibited from working in public sector jobs (UN 4 Oct. 2010; IPS 19 Nov. 2010).
  • Complex procedures exist to obtain work permits (EU 25 May 2011, 5; IPS 19 Nov. 2010).
  • Contracts with employers are still necessary in order to obtain a work permit, and employers likely will not issue contracts because they will be required to declare the wage paid and pay into social security (IPS 19 Nov. 2010).
  • MRG indicates that according to the UK's Guardian, before offering a job to a Palestinian, Lebanese employers must prove to the Ministry of Labour that no Lebanese national can do the job (MRG July 2011, 224).
  • The work permit system relies on "employer cooperation, a system that has previously relegated most Palestinians to black market labor" (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011).
  • Since they are not allowed to own property, Palestinians cannot run businesses or shops (IPS 19 Nov. 2010).

Although Palestinian refugees pay contributions, they are still not allowed to claim health and maternity benefits, as well as family indemnity (EU 25 May 2011; IPS 19 Nov. 2010).

Some professional associations require "reciprocity" agreements with a foreigner's home country before granting membership (AP 17 Aug. 2010). Since Palestinians do not have a home country, they have historically been unable to access positions which require such reciprocity agreements (IPS 14 June 2010). Human Rights Watch indicates that the August 2010 amendments to the labour law exempt Palestinians from reciprocity agreements (Human Rights Watch 24 Jan. 2011). However, according to IPS, these new provisions have not been implemented in practice (19 Nov. 2010).

Sources place the unemployment rate of Palestinian refugees between 56 percent (UN n.d.c) and 60 percent (IPS 14 June 2010). According to IPS, some companies simply state that they do not hire Palestinians (IPS 14 June 2010). IPS also states that in 2009, Human Rights Watch statistics indicated that while 36,754 Ethiopians were granted work visas, 261 Palestinians received work visas (ibid.). Sources indicate that Palestinian refugees are underpaid (The Daily Star 29 Oct. 2010; IPS 14 June 2010), earning "significantly lower hourly wages" than their Lebanese counterparts (ibid.). The Daily Star reports that 40 percent of the Palestinian refugees who are working earn less than minimum wage (29 Oct. 2010). Some Palestinian refugees work in the informal sector (US 8 Apr. 2011; IPS 19 November 2010), and are forced to hide from officials because they are working illegally (ibid.). According to IPS, the other option for Palestinian refugees is to work in camps, but the labour market is limited and there are few opportunities for educated persons (ibid.). According to MRG, Palestinian refugees are denied access to "all but menial employment" (MRG July 2011).

As previously mentioned, non-ID Palestinians are not legally allowed to work (The Star 14 Dec. 2009; AFP 5 Dec. 2009), and some must live on the handouts they receive (ibid.).

According to the report of the working group on the Universal Period Review for Lebanon, in 2011, Lebanon rejected France's recommendation to "[l]ift the obstacles to employ Palestinian refugees" (UN 12 Jan. 2011, para. 82.28).

Living Conditions for Palestinian Refugees

Sources indicate that "abject" or "deep" poverty exists in Palestinian refugee camps (Knudsen 2009, 51; UN n.d.b; BADIL 2009, 75). According to UNRWA, two of every three Palestinian refugees are poor (UN n.d.c), and compared to other countries where UNRWA is working, Lebanon has the highest number of Palestinian refugees living in "abject poverty" (UN n.d.b). The UN states that the socio-economic conditions in all 12 refugee camps are "deplorable" (UN 2 Sept. 2010, para. 45), while Knudsen calls the camps "urban slums" (Knudsen 2009, 51). According to sources, the refugee camps are overpopulated (UN n.d.b; US 8 Apr. 2011, 20), and the US Department of State indicates a prevalence of drugs, prostitution and crime (ibid.). The USCRI states that camps have "open sewers, polluted drinking water, and poor electrical wiring" (2009).

Refugee camps have poor housing conditions and do not have proper infrastructure (UN n.d.b). In addition, the Lebanese government has prohibited construction in the camps (BADIL 2009, 77; USCRI 2009), and has imposed restrictions on building materials and fines or penalties for attempting to build (The Palestine Chronicle 1 Apr. 2011). According to UNRWA, 95 percent of all buildings and infrastructure was "destroyed or damaged beyond repair" in the Nahr el-Bared camp during the 2007 clashes between the Lebanese Army and Fatah Al-Islam (UN n.d.b). BADIL indicates that in 2009, municipal authorities stopped giving refugees from Nahr el-Bared building permits, and "many" people who were trying to rebuild their house "'without a permit'" received "violent threats" from the Lebanese army (BADIL 2010, 33). UNRWA states that many refugees from Nahr-el Bared are still displaced and are still living in temporary accommodations (UN n.d.c). UNRWA also indicates that in the other 11 refugee camps, 40 percent of accommodations "have water leaking through their roof and walls" (ibid.).

BADIL indicates that in Beddawi camp, near Nahr el-Bared, the Lebanese authorities are tightening security and building trenches around the camp (2010, 34). According to the UN, in order to move to different camps, refugees residing in camps must apply for permits (UN 2008), and BADIL states that there is a lack of alternative housing outside of camps (BADIL 2009, 66). The "gatherings" of Palestinian refugees that exist outside of camps do not receive some UNRWA services such as waste disposal (UN n.d.a). UNRWA is also prohibited from constructing shelters or restoring the infrastructure of these "gatherings" (ibid.).

The President of the CLDH indicates that there is a "poor security situation" in Palestinian refugee camps (CLDH 5 Oct. 2011). According to USCRI, in 2008, clashes between groups killed several Palestinians in the Ain el-Hilweh camp (USCRI 2009). The USCRI states that "Lebanese police typically do not enter Palestinian camps or provide security there" (ibid.). The US Department of State reports on clashes in 2010 between different Palestinian factions and foreign militias over control of the refugee camps (8 Apr. 2011, 20).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

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_____. 28 April 2011. Marie Dhumieres. "Palestinians Continue to Press for Improvement in Social Services." (Factiva)

_____. 29 October 2010. Simona Sikimic. "Lebanon's Refugee Camps No Better Than Those in Gaza - UNRWA Official; One-third of School Graduates Unemployed, While Others Poorly Paid, Study Finds." (Factiva)

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_____. N.d.b. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). "Lebanon Camp Profiles." [Accessed 6 Oct. 2011]

_____. N.d.c. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). "Palestine Refugees: A Special Case." [Accessed 6 Oct. 2011]

_____. N.d.d. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). "Invest in Health." [Accessed 6 Oct. 2011]

United States (US). 8 April 2011. Department of State. "Lebanon." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010. [Accessed 28 Sept. 2011]

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). 2009. "Country Report: Lebanon." World Refugee Survey 2009. [Accessed 20 Oct. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral Sources: Attempts to contact a representative of the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights and Human Rights Watch were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: International Crisis Group, United Nations — Refworld.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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