Annual Report 2018 (Executive Summary)

Annual Report 2018 (Executive Summary)

The Palestinian Association For human Rights (Witness) publishes its annual report for the year 2018. This report comes as a brief field research to monitor the reality of Palestinian human rights in Lebanon in all aspects and to present an objective vision and practical recommendations that may contribute to change the reality to better conditions.

In this context, the report concluded, among other things:

The Lebanese state has dealt with the Palestinian file for long periods as a security file, ignored the approaches to human rights, and did not make decisions and legislation regulating this presence in accordance with the rules of international law, and left the option for some ministers and general managers and security officials to assess things and act as necessary.

The Lebanese State considers the Palestinian person as a foreigner of a special kind and not treated as refugee who subjected to international rules and the international human rights rules.

On the other hand, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon suffer from weakness and sometimes the fragility of the political and security reference, which makes the Palestinian camps, lose the immunity and power to face the challenges.

In addition to depriving the Palestinian Refugees from their civil rights in Lebanon. The Palestinian refugees have suffered from the security disturbances in some of their camps. These disturbances have varied from one camp to another, the largest of which that occurred this year was in the Meiya and Mieh camp in Saida (south Lebanon) that witnessed military actions between Ansar Allah and Fateh movement during "last October, which led to the displacement of most residents of the camp and the destruction and burning of hundred houses and its furniture 

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) has noticed a decline in the security tensions compared with 2017. The most important indicator of this is the decrease in the number of deaths due to these tensions, Witness has documented 10 dead persons in 2018 and 41 injured, while 24 killed in 2017 and wounded 121 People.

The year 2018 saw an additional decline with respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) monitored this in its annual report for 2018, which is divided into several sections:

First: UNRWA and its developments in Lebanon during 2018

After the intensive media campaigns by the US administration and the Israeli occupation against UNRWA UNRWA started many steps to reduce its services.

These cuts have affected the education and health sector, integrating schools and clinics and reducing the number of teachers and doctors. In the sector of employment, UNRWA has decided to stop employment this year due to the shortage of money in the general fund, despite the high rates of extreme poverty among Palestinians that are living in Lebanon, the relief program in the Social Affairs Section covers only 15% of the total Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The food stuff and goods have been transferred to cash money every three month. During the year of 2018, and the Unite Lebanese Youth Ulyp Foundation) Malak Al Nimer) has provided opportunities for 10% of the total successful students.

The reports monitored the housing situation of the camps, where 15% of the houses were monitored for renovation or reconstruction.

Second: Legal legislation during 2018

The Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee is working to address the daily life problems of the refugees. However, these efforts have translated into an operational reality. For the Directorate of Political Affairs and Refugees, dozens of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continue to face difficulties in settling their legal status in the Directorate of Political Affairs or in terms of establishing their restrictions or issuing a magnetic identity. Although the Directorate of the Lebanese General Security continues to issue biometric passports for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the holder of this document issued by the Lebanese General Security are treated as foreigners at Rafic Hariri International Airport.

The Directorate of the Internal Security Forces supervises the Palestinian camps through the establishment of a group of interior security centers   specialized for the camps in the various Lebanese regions, but the arrested halls in these centers are not suitable for detention. The Lebanese army also controls security in most of the Palestinian camps in Lebanon through the establishment of permanent checkpoints at the entrances to these camps, and takes strict measures at the entrances to the camps, including the prevention of the entering of building and construction materials and restrictions on pedestrians and the establishment of electronic gates.

 

Third: Palestinian gatherings

Lebanon has some 156 Palestinian communities and UNRWA itself is not responsible for providing services to these communities. However, the biggest problem in this context is that many of the lands of these communities are either state lands belonging to the Lebanese state or municipalities, or belong to charities or owned by individuals. The Palestinian refugees after the Nakba of 1948 settled in these gatherings since they   did not expect that the crisis of their nakba will extend to the present day and therefore some of the owners began demanding to return their properties and resort to get decisions from the courts to remove these houses. As happened in -Shubraha gathering in February 2018.

 

Fourth: Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon

The 2017 census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon showed that 1219 families of a Lebanese husband and a Palestinian refugee wife, and 3,707 families of a Palestinian refugee husbands and a Lebanese wife. The national campaign for the early detection of breast cancer has excluded Palestinian women, which launched by the Lebanese Ministry of Health on October 1, 2018, until the end of December 2019, include women over the age of forty. Although UNRWA provides health services to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, UNRWA is unable, for various reasons, to provide health needs, therefore, women's health conditions are difficult and in constant retrogression. It can be said that Palestinian women in Lebanon suffer from a situation of widespread marginalization that affects most of the basic rights, especially the right of work and own property.

 

Fifth: the Palestinian children in Lebanon

Children under the age of 19 constitute 37.9% of the total number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which were shown by the general census, living under harsh conditions of constraint that deprived them of their most basic rights, according to information published on UNRWA's official website, overall poverty rates reach 73% in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, while unemployment rates are 56%. And 38% of Palestinians in Lebanon enjoy food security, 38% suffer from moderate food insecurity and 24% suffer from acute food insecurity. An alarming 27 percent of Palestinian children live with severe food insecurity.

Sixth: Migration demolishes Palestinian camps and evacuates them from its population

The report monitored the migration of some 4,000 Palestinian families from Lebanon to Europe between 2017 and 2018, at a cost between 8000$ and 10,000$ for each individual depending on the country of destination, according to various media sources.

Eighth: Security events in the Palestinian camps - Lebanon – 2018

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness) documented a decline in security tensions compared with 2017, the most significant indicator  is the decrease in the number of deaths resulting from these tensions, where (witness) documented 10 deaths in 2018 and 41 injured, while 24 people were killed and 121 injured in 2017. In addition to the damage of homes, shops and infrastructure, and displacing families from their homes in clashes, and closing schools.

Ninth: Status of Lebanon's international and legal obligations towards refugees

 As each year in its reports, these laws, decisions and discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon contravene article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are not in conformity with the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights and are contrary to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and also strikes down the Casablanca Protocol issued by the League of Arab States at a meeting in Casablanca on 10 September 1965 regarding the treatment of Palestinian refugees in the same way as citizens of host countries.

 

Tenth: Proposals to amend the following laws

In a special focus, (witness) presented in its annual report proposals and draft laws that if it takes into consideration it will constitute a good article for the Lebanese parliament and constitute a material for Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue.

The report ended with a series of recommendations, as follows:

UNRWA:

·        The Palestinians in Lebanon are still refugees and the United Nations and the international community have a responsibility to continue securing UNRWA financial support so that it can continue providing services for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

·        UNRWA's budget should be shifted from an independent budget based on voluntary contributions only to a fixed budget as part of the UN budget until the refugees issue is resolved and returned to their homes.

The Lebanese State

·        The Lebanese State should amend all laws and decisions that violate Palestinian human rights in accordance with the provisions of the International Bill of Human Rights.

·        Practical application of the issues raised in the document issued by the "Working Group on Palestinian Refugee Issues in Lebanon", which was officially announced during a ceremony held on 20/7/2017 at the government building.

·        The Lebanese State should pursue the agents responsible for organizing illegal immigration flights.

·        Settling the situation of Palestinian refugees from Syria as a legal settlement consistent with the provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights law as refugees and non-Arab visitors and not imposing any fees or restrictions on their movement.

International and regional organizations

·        The General Assembly of the United Nations should be responsible for the continuation of UNRWA's work since it established UNRWA in 1949 in accordance with Resolution 302. It should make the UNRWA budget part of its budget, not to allow it to be turned into a pressure card by donor countries for political interests.

·        The European Union, the League of Arab States and other regional organizations must intervene immediately and pressure on the American administration to withdraw its decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of the state of "Israel" and the transfer of its embassy to it, ​​and to refrain from suspending the financial obligations of UNRWA

The Palestinian factions:

·        The Palestinian factions in Lebanon should unite their position to protect the Palestinian presence in Lebanon, provide security and stability, protect the right of return, and reject settlement and displacement.

·        Implement an urgent Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue that aims to have a common political vision and a good relationship among each other to avoid the camps from any violence actions.

Beirut 28/3/2019
Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness)