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State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2011 - Lebanon

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 6 July 2011
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2011 - Lebanon, 6 July 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e16d36950.html [accessed 21 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.

As sectarian tensions continued to increase in Lebanon, for the country's religious and ethnic minorities several key events have marked the year.

An estimated 100-150 Jews live in Lebanon and, in 2010, long-awaited work to rebuild Beirut's Maghen Abraham synagogue (destroyed by shelling in 1982) finally began to bear visible results. Ongoing hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel have contributed to the exodus of Lebanon's Jewish communities, and plans to rebuild the place of worship have been delayed for years. But donations including from Christian and Muslim communities both in Beirut and worldwide have contributed to realizing the project. Work was scheduled to be completed in October 2010, and the synagogue is due to begin conducting services in 2011.

According to UNRWA around 422,000 Palestinian refugees are registered in Lebanon, (around 10 per cent of the population), around half of whom live in 12 recognized refugee camps. The community has been present in Lebanon for over 60 years. They have historically been denied citizenship rights, including access to all but menial employment, thus condemning them to generations of poverty. In August 2010, a new law was finally passed allowing Palestinians to work legally. Though this is a welcome step forward, it does not go far enough. While work permit fees have been waived and workers can now claim cover for work-related accidents, the UK's Guardian newspaper reported that a Lebanese employer must still demonstrate to the Ministry of Labour that a Lebanese national cannot perform the job before hiring a Palestinian. Palestinians are still prohibited from accessing more than thirty professions, including medicine, engineering and the law, and they are still unable to access state education and medical facilities, the BBC reported. Proposals to allow Palestinians to buy property were met with 'fierce opposition', according to media reports, and it remains to be seen whether the law will have any real effect. Access for Palestinians to universities and vocational training centres is restricted, with quotas for admitting foreigners under particular courses of study. Palestinian refugees are not entitled to social security benefits such as family allowance and maternity leave. Around 95 per cent are not covered by health insurance and rely heavily on UNRWA for health services.

In November 2010, Lebanon came under the UN Human Rights Council UPR. The government dismissed recommendations that would promote equality for women, allow Palestinians the right to own property and protect migrants from abuse, HRW reported. Lebanon's personal status law holds that Lebanese women cannot pass citizenship to their spouses or children, and the country's UN delegation rejected recommendations that this be amended. Amnesty International highlighted that this means the children of Lebanese women married to foreign nationals – including Palestinians – are not considered Lebanese citizens and cannot obtain citizenship, and are denied access to free state education. A court case challenging the law was upheld in 2009, based on constitutional provisions on gender equality for all citizens. But the Lebanese Civil Chamber Court of Appeal overturned the decision in April 2010.

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