The Palestinian Monitoring Committee in Lebanon stressed on Sunday the necessity for the government in Beirut to cancel the requirement for Palestinian refugees to obtain work permits, Quds Press has reported. The PMC also denounced rumours that there had been an easing of employment restrictions, describing them as “deceptive”.
A statement from the Committee stressed that the law issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Labour must be amended on the basis of a new and shared Palestinian-Lebanese vision. It insisted that refugees will continue with their protests until their demands are fully met and the Labour Minister retracts the procedures in question. The PMC also called on the Lebanese authorities to end the crisis quickly and initiate a comprehensive dialogue on all issues relating to the Palestinians without delay.
In the meantime, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been told to prepare for a “Day of Anger” on Friday 26 July in order to express the unity of their position and demands. In issuing this call to protest, the Committee saluted all of the refugees in the various camps, communities and cities who have already rallied in the streets and squares across Lebanon to defend their rights.
According to the PMC, the unity of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon — many of whom have been there since 1948 and 1967 — is demonstrated by the solidarity between the camps. This is expressed by food and humanitarian aid exchanges in a spirit of social and humanitarian togetherness. The Committee commended the awareness and sense of responsibility which maintains the peaceful and civil aspect of the popular protests, stressing the need to preserve this feature. It called upon protesters to avoid any form of confrontation, abuse or violence, and to sidestep any tense situations.
The issue has arisen because the Lebanese Ministry of Labour has given employers who have “illegal workers” or “violators” a deadline of one month to rectify the situation. The authorities have launched a campaign which has led to 34 institutions closing down where Palestinian refugees were working.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon suffer from an unemployment crisis across all age groups. According to UNRWA’s 2019 report, 36 per cent of all Palestinian youth are unemployed; this rises to 57 per cent among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which is home to 174,422 Palestinian refugees registered with the UN and living in 12 official camps and 156 Palestinian communities in five Lebanese governorates, according to the census conducted by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics in 2017. UNRWA, however, puts the figure at 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, many of whom live in the camps in the country run by the Agency.