Palestinians protest Lebanon foreign labour crackdown for third day

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon protest foreign labour crackdown for third day
2 min read
17 July, 2019
Palestinian refugees have launched a third day of consecutive protests in camps across Lebanon against a government crackdown on non-Lebanese workers
Palestinian refugees are protesting a foreign labour crackdown in Lebanon. [Getty]

Palestinian refugees have launched a third day of consecutive protests in camps across Lebanon against a government crackdown on non-Lebanese workers.

Last month Lebanon's ministry of labour began clamping down on businesses employing foreign workers without a permit.

After a grace period expired last week it started inspections and closed non-compliant establishments, while issuing others with warnings.

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees staged protests on Tuesday, with residents of the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp taking to the streets and burning tires at the camp's entrance to stop authorities from coming in.

Protests have continued into Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking entrances to Palestinian refugee camps, burning tires, and preventing the entry of food products.

Read more: Lebanese above all: The politics of scapegoating Syrian refugees

Thousands of Palestinians have gone on strike in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, The Daily Star reported. The Lebanese army was deployed overnight to clear roads and disperse protesters.

Critics say the measures essentially target Syrians who have fled the war next door, but Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon also fear they will be targeted.

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.

Lebanese Labour Minister Camille Abousleiman earlier this week denied the inspections had overwhelmingly affected Palestinians.

"Of the 550 violations registered since last Wednesday, only two concerned large companies owned by Palestinians," he said.

The Palestinian ambassador in Beirut, Ashraf Dabbour, on Monday called on the Lebanese government to exempt Palestinians from these measures.

Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas called for "the immediate end to all closures".

Azzam al-Ahmad, from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), discussed the measures with Lebanese officials, saying they went against Lebanese-Palestinian efforts "to organise the residency, work and rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon".

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.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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