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London protesters slam Lebanon's crackdown on Palestinian refugees

Dozens of people staged a protest near the Lebanese embassy in the London [Facebook]

Date of publication: 22 July, 2019

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Dozens of people staged a protest near the Lebanese embassy in the British capital on Sunday, to demonstrate a crackdown by authorities on Palestinian refugees working without permits in Lebanon.
Dozens of people staged a protest near the Lebanese embassy in the British capital on Sunday, to demonstrate a crackdown by authorities on Palestinian refugees working without permits in Lebanon.

The protest, arranged by the Palestinian Forum, denounced the "discriminatory laws" against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the group's spokesman Adnan Hmidan told The New Arab.

"The protesters raised banners calling for maintaining the brotherly relations between the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, praising the Lebanese stands taken on the popular and official levels against the Ministry of Labor's restrictions," Hmidan said.

"They stressed that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have the right to work and live in dignity until they return to Palestine," he added.

The London demonstration came as hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon protested last week against the ministry's move on businesses employing refugees illegally.

They and dozens of demonstrators in Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, as well as the south and east of the country, denounced the move as "unfair". 

Last month, the ministry gave companies a one-month deadline to acquire the necessary work permits.

After the grace period expired last week, it started inspections, closing down non-compliant establishments and issuing others with warnings.

Critics have said the measure essentially targets Syrians who have fled the war next door, but Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon also fear they will be hit.

Palestinians in Lebanon are exempt from paying for work permits, the UN refugee agency says.

But Palestinian business owners must still register and pay a quarter of the standard fee.

Around 174,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps across the country, a one-off government census said in 2017.

In 2010, Lebanon's parliament revoked a ban that had barred them from tens of professions for years, restricting them to jobs in fields such as construction and farming.

But Palestinians are still not permitted to work in professions reserved for Lebanese citizens such as medicine, law, the army, and police.

Palestinians began taking refuge in Lebanon with the creation of Israel in 1948, setting up camps that have since transformed into bustling, urban districts.

Their presence has been controversial, with many blaming them for the start of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

Lebanon says it hosts around 1.5 million Syrians, after they fled the eight-year conflict at home, who have been accused of sparking a series of economic woes in the country.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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