Reports & Researches

Chronic challenges and another emerging facing Palestinian refugee in Lebanon

Annual Report 2017

Chronic challenges and another emerging facing Palestinian refugee in Lebanon

 executive summary 2017 

"Centaury Deal" and the threat of halting UNRWA support, and the security crises in the region pose a real danger on the refugee's future.

In a press conference at its office in Beirut, the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) launched its Annual report for 2017 about the situations of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon under the title: " Rights of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, where to?"

The press conference began with the Lebanese and Palestinian national anthems, then a word for the human rights activist Yusra Khalaf, who said; " this report comes under difficult conditions the Palestinian refugees passes by it, including what is related to the ambiguous relationship between the Lebanese state and the Palestinian refugees, and what is related to the bloody conflict in the region, and including the decision of the Us President Trump to move the US Embassy to the occupied city of Jerusalem, and including the threat of halting UNRWA support."

Khalaf's added that this report comes within the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) effort in defending the rights of Palestinian refugees, including the publication of the annual report within high-quality human rights standards.

Then, Dr. Mahmoud EL-Hanafi, Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) director, reviewed the executive summary of the annual report.

Hanafi said that the year 2017: " Witnessed an additional decline in the level of respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and the Lebanese government didn’t fulfill its international obligations toward the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, in particularly the right to own property, and the right to work, and the right to expand the area of the camps in proportion to the increase in population. Also there is a significant decline has recorded in the level and quality of services provided by UNRWA. And the US threats to stop UNRWA support added a serious concern to the Palestinian refugee community and to the Lebanese state itself. And the report recorded an increase in the security tensions in the Palestinian camps, which resulted in dozens of dead and wounded, as well as the physical damage. The report accurately monitored the situations of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon at various levels, at the level of Lebanese state and the Palestinian rights, at the level of UNRWA and Palestinian rights, and at the level of the local governance of the camps.

Regarding the services provided by UNRWA Hanafi said:" there are two challenges in this regard, the first is related to the financial crisis which this international agency is experiencing and which negatively affects the quantity and the type of services, and the second is related to the agency performance itself, which need to be carefully evaluated." Then Hanafi moved to review the services provided by the agency, where a notes were recorded on each, whether in health, education or university scholarship (14 scholarships provided by UNRWA to approximately 1,300 students who had passed the official examination), or in the crisis of Nahr al-Bared or in the infrastructure projects or the project of social services...

Regarding the census, Hanafi said: " "Despite the importance of this census, but (witness) believes that the results of the census will not be reflected positively on the level of rights in the foreseeable or even the average, because the complexity of granting rights to the Palestinian is more than a numbers issue, for example on the level of owning property right, and despite the Palestinian contribution in this issue, however there is no positive climate that permits the right to own property. This cumulative climate related to cultural and historical conditions which are difficult to overcome easily."

As for the number in the census (174422 people), Hanafi asked" why there is a huge difference between this number and what UNRWA provided in its record about 490000 people, and how UNRWA will deal with this difference at the level of funding".

On the level of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Hanafi said: "this document contains provisions that would, if applied, improve the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon."

And about the relationship between the Lebanese army and the Palestinian camps, Hanafi said: "the Lebanese army taking strict procedures at the entrance of the camps which hinder people's lives in general and constitute an additional suffering for them. And the army sources say that these strict procedures are to protect the camp from the wanted and terrorists. But these procedures are applied to all the camp residents and not the wanted." (Witness) has called in more than one occasion in humanization these procedures in order to achieve the army's goals of achieving security and preserve the human dignity of the camp resident.

And Hanafi praised some official institutions, especially the directorate of the Political Affairs and Refugees, and the Lebanese public security, which has developed its work on the ease of issuing official documents, and for the issuing of biometric travel document.

As for the security tensions and the local governance inside the camps, Hanafi said: "the Palestinian association for human Rights (Witness) has recorded a remarkable increase in security tensions compared to 2016; the most significant indicator of this is the increase in deaths due to these tensions, which Hanafi described as absurd and harmful. And )Witness) has documented 24 dead in 2017, while documenting 15 dead in 2015, and 10 dead in 2016. The Palestinian camps still need a political reference chosen democratically that earns the confidence of the population and is capable of dealing with all challenges, political, economic social, and security.

Hanafi concluded by presenting the report's recommendations which is addressed to the international community, the Lebanese State, UNRWA and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Beirut, 1/3/2018

Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)