Lebanon - Palestine

Lebanon grants employment to 400,000 Palestinian refugees

Reuters

Lebanon's parliament has adopted a law granting full employment rights to the roughly 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in the country, though the Lebanese constitution prohibits the naturalisation of the refugees.

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The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates that there are about 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, though Lebanese officials have said no more than 300,000 refugees actually reside in the country.

Leila Al-Ali from the Nadeh Association

Leila Al-Ali from the Palestinian rights group, the Najdeh Association, told RFI that the move is only a partial lifting of the ban on Palestinian workers, specifying that it would only affect unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

For decades, the fate of the refugees has been a thorny issue in Lebanon, dividing Christian and Muslim legislators in the 128-member parliament, which is equally split between the two confessions.

Lebanon's Christians fear any move that could eventually give Palestinians Lebanese, which would increase the number of Sunni Muslims and shift the balance of power in the country.

The Lebanese constitution currently prohibits granting the refugees naturalisation, and Palestinian officials have consistently refused permanent resettlement in Lebanon. 

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