Unwrapping the rights to work for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

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Lebanon has been known as a country hosting refugees since 1948, when it hosted 500,000 Palestinians on its territory[1] , and they have contributed greatly to the Lebanese economy, especially in the informal work sector, and Lebanon has adopted since the 1960s a policy of open door for Syrian citizens to enter daily and seasonal employment as a result of the two countries’ consensus (Syrian and Lebanese) for that. During the Lebanese civil war, and after many Lebanese emigrated and the local Labour force decreased, other Syrians flocked to fill this deficit. And as a result, the Lebanese economy relied heavily on Syrian and Palestinian Labour, especially in the fields of agriculture, construction, and services, where available estimates indicate that foreign employment historically constituted about a quarter of the Labour force contributing to the Lebanese economy in general before the civil war in Lebanon and beyond, and before the Syrian war.[2] and beyond. As an example, in 1972, Syrians represented 90% of construction workers in Lebanon.[3]

As a result of the violence that confronted the peaceful movement in Syria in 2011, and after the Syrian situation turned into a regional war zone, the Syrians were forced to leave their countries in search of safety and some stability, so they were distributed in neighboring countries according to their regions, and Lebanon received the largest number of refugees compared to the number of its population . (It should be noted that Lebanon continued to describe the situation of Syrians as “displaced” in contravention of the internationally accepted international legal definition.) At the beginning of 2015, the Lebanese General Directorate of General Security issued a decision regulating the entry and exit of Syrians to and from Lebanon.  New administrative mechanisms were put in place to obtain residency permits for Syrians in Lebanon without taking into account the state of war raging in their countries fleeing from them. Noting that this decision by the General Security is illegal according to the decision by the State Council.[4] which considered this decision’s issuing party lacks the capacity, as the law exclusively restricts the right to issue such a decision to the Council of Ministers. Unfortunately, and in violation of the constitution, the State Council’s decision was not enforced, and the Lebanese authorities’ treatment of Syrians remains according to the General Security decision.

It is estimated that approximately 270,000 Palestine refugees live in Lebanon[5], along with approximately 42,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)[6] ,while Lebanon hosts about 1.5 million Syrians, including 926 717 Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR as of February 2019, and the Lebanese government claims that there are about 550,000 people living in Lebanon who are not registered with the UNHCR.[7]

The influx in the number of refugees in Lebanon led to increased pressure from the Lebanese authorities on Syrian refugees And the Palestinians in general, which negatively affected their living conditions In Lebanon, depriving them of their basic rights.

And due to the absence of the Lebanese government’s role in organizing and managing the refugee situation, including managing the work file, 30% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon as a whole work in rural areas with salaries that do not exceed two hundred dollars per month. In addition to the material and material assistance provided by the United Nations and the countries that have supported Lebanon to host it for refugees, and civil society organisations working in the relief sector, whose work is based on supporting refugees in Lebanon through collecting donations from individuals and groups from outside the country, which were reflected in revitalizing and raising the economy of Lebanon in many ways.

For example, during 2016 the Syrians spent nearly $ 378 million in Lebanon on housing rentals.[8]

Only, according to the United Nations, while their spending on food is estimated at $ 400 million annually, in addition to Lebanon receiving more than a billion and a half dollars annually since the beginning of the crisis as international aid For refugees, thousands of job opportunities were created for citizens based on that aid, in addition to the increase in supply and demand in the Lebanese markets for various commodities, the real estate market is active (selling or leasing) and improving the infrastructure for some Lebanese regions and villages (such as Bar Elias) and the increase in the number of Lebanese schools due to State grants and other gains for the Lebanese economy.[9]

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