Adonis Diaries

Living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

Posted on: April 20, 2016

Living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

For decades, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been living in poverty and subpar conditions in Lebanon.

Some 450,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees in the country, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

More than 50% live in one of the country’s 12 refugee settlements, “all of which suffer from serious problems, including poverty, overcrowding, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure.”

As much of the world turns a blind eye on the problems these refugees must deal with on a daily basis, generations and generations of Palestinians continue to be born and die within a harsh and unfair reality. Here are 7 horrible facts about life for the majority of these people.

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6 horrible facts about life in Lebanon for Palestinian refugees
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1. High unemployment

A young man walks in an alleyway of a Palestinian refugee settlement in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

A young man walks in an alleyway of a Palestinian refugee settlement in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

More than half of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are unemployed, leaving only 37 percent of the working age population employed, according to a 2012 report by ANERA.

Despite educational backgrounds, Palestinians are restricted from even being considered for employment in as many as 20 professions, according to the UNRWA.

Often, the only jobs Palestinians are able to find in Lebanon are menial labor, paying poor wages.

2. Very low average income

An elderly Palestinian woman walking down an alley. Source: Jason Lemon

An elderly Palestinian woman walking down an alley. Source: Jason Lemon

As a direct result of the employment situation, Palestinians on average have a significantly lower income than Lebanese. Out of other countries hosting Palestinian refugees, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestinians living in extreme poverty, according to ANERA. Two out of three Palestinians in the country survive with less than $6 per day.

3. Subpar education facilities

An UNRWA school for Palestinians in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

An UNRWA school for Palestinians in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

Palestinians are not allowed to enroll in Lebanon’s public school system. (The new Syrian refugees can). Although they could enroll in private institutions, with just $6 a day, paying tuition is virtually impossible. Thus, refugees rely on UNRWA schools and vocational centers that are increasingly inadequate to meet the needs of the population.

As many as half of Palestinian teenagers, especially males, drop out of school – usually to work in part-time menial jobs to support their families.

4. Crumbling infrastructure

A Palestinian refugee settlement in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

A Palestinian refugee settlement in Beirut. Source: Jason Lemon

While Palestinians have been living in the same settlements for decades, with little support and poor economic prospects, these settlements remain to be some of the poorest and least developed areas in Lebanon.

Increasingly overcrowded, ANERA reports these Palestinian settlements suffer from “Poor housing conditions, leaky pipes, deteriorated water and sewage treatment systems, contaminated water, and jerry-rigged electrical connections.”

5. Poor health

A young Palestinian girl traces a crack with her umbrella. Source: Jason Lemon

A young Palestinian girl traces a crack in the street with her umbrella. Source: Jason Lemon

Its not surprising that all of the aforementioned factors have a negative affect on the average Palestinian refugee’s health. “One out of three refugees suffers from a chronic illness such as hypertension, cancer and diabetes,” according to ANERA.

Additionally, “infant, child, and maternal mortality rates are high.” Numerous disabilities, mental health problems and poor nutrition also plague the community.

All of these factors are complicated by the reality that Palestinians are unable to access Lebanon’s public health system. They rely on UNRWA facilities that are understaffed and underfunded, with one doctor at an UNRWA clinic seeing nearly 120 patients per day.

6. Severely limited travel

Residents of a Palestinian refugee settlement walking. Source: Jason Lemon

Residents of a Palestinian refugee settlement walking. Source: Jason Lemon

Why would Palestinians choose to stay in this situation?

Well, despite the obvious economic problems involved in leaving, traveling outside of Lebanon is extremely difficult for Palestinian refugees. Requiring visas to visit the vast majority of countries in the world makes things complicated.

Add to this the fact that Palestinian refugees’ travel is also limited and controlled by the Lebanese government through a complicated visa system based on their particular legal status within the country, and you have a population of people that is essentially stuck in a dire situation.

And the bad news? With the influx of refugees from Syria, some of whom were already Palestinian refugees residing there, the situation only becomes more complicated and hundreds of thousands of innocent people continue to suffer the consequences.

Note: Many Palestinian refugees have been living in Lebanon for 6 decades since their forced exodus by Israel in 1948.

Many more flocked in in 1967 after the June pre-emptive war against Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

More came in after King Hussein of Jordan drove them to Lebanon in 1971.

Lebanon main reason for denying a Lebanese woman to give citizenship to her children is because many married Palestinians.

Lebanon refused to give Palestinian descendants any rights

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