Palestinians in Lebanon
There for 60 years! And they are forbidden to work in any decent-paying job.
The camps are ghettos with rudimentary infrastructure.
LE MONDE | 22.05.07 | 14h56 • Mis à jour le 22.05.07 | 14h56
The approximately 400,000 Palestinians registered in Lebanon by UNRWA, the UN agency specialized in issues relating to Palestinian refugees, live in 12 camps scattered around Beirut, the south, the north and the east of the country. The estimated 16,000 refugees of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war are not included in this statistic in that UNRWA considers a refugee any Palestinian having lived in Palestine two years before the 1948 exodus and who was then expelled, including his or her descendants.
An agreement concluded in 1969 with Lebanon sponsored by Nasserite Egypt granted Palestinians the right to continue their struggle against Israel from the Arkub region in the south of the country. This agreement, drafted by Cairo, forbade the Lebanese to enter the refugee camps where the Palestinians were in charge of security. This agreement, of which the special section relating to the south, is in de facto lapse after the departure of the Palestinian fighters from Lebanon following an Israeli invasion, was abrogated by the Lebanese Parliament in 1987.
The mainstream Palestinian organizations are nevertheless well established and the predominance of one group or another depends on the geographical location. Thus, since the time Damascus exercised it hegemony over Lebanon, and considering its geographic proximity to Syria, the two refugee camps in the north of the country, Nahr al-Bared and Baddawi, have been dominated by Fatah-Intifada, which grew out of a pro-Syrian splinter group in 1982 from Yassir Arafat's Fatah.
But since the end of the 1990’s, Salafist networks have sprung up inside the camps in a sort of osmosis Lebanese Salafists in the Akkar region, further north, as noted by Bernard Rougier, in Le Jihad au quotidien [Everyday Jihad] (Presses universitaires de France). This event does not seem to have preoccupied the Syrians, who were already wooing the Lebanese Salafists in northern Lebanon. At the other extremity of the country, far from Damascus, in the Aïn Al-Helowi camp east of the town of Sidon, Jihadist Islamism ten years later and is part of global Islamism, opposed to the PLO and Palestinian nationalism, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In the other refugee camps, Fatah is dominant.
Built on land granted by the Lebanese state in the aftermath of the creation of Israel, they lack basic infrastructures and are ghettos where the population lives in growing misery, denied economic and social rights. In exchange for the “organization" of security inside the camps and the disarming of Palestinian outside the camps, the government of Fouad Siniora has begun to offer this guest population a decent life.
While awaiting the outcome of discussion on this topic, a Interior Ministry circular made timid headway in reducing the number of professions [such as law, investment, accounting] that are forbidden to Palestinians from 72 to 20. This is the only fragile achievement to date coming out of extremely intensive dialog.