Palestinian Refugees Languish in Lebanon

By Schenker, David | Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Palestinian Refugees Languish in Lebanon


Schenker, David, Middle East Quarterly


"In all but name, Lebanon today is a non-country," wrote the Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi in 1989.1 A weak state racked with sectarian and political divisions, there is little on which Lebanese people can agree. One rare issue on which they seemed to have formed an enduring consensus, however, is that of the Palestinians. While Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze alike condemn Israel and support the "liberation" of Palestine with alacrity, few of them have historically supported expanding rights and improving the dire conditions of the estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees within Lebanese borders.2 Not only is discussion of tawtin - or settlement - of these refugees in Lebanon a taboo, since 1 990, it has also been unconstitutional. As one Palestinian wryly noted, the Lebanese "are all with Palestine, but against the Palestinians."3

With few if any local advocates, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have come to depend on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as their sole source of support and protection. Unfortunately for them, UNRWA has not proved up to the task.

THE MISSION

Created by the U.N. in December 1949, UNRWA's mission today is to "provide assistance, protection and advocacy for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight."4

In Lebanon, the situation for Palestinians is desperate, and as such UNRWA - whose 2011 budget was nearly $75 million - assists with a great deal of service delivery. For example, within the twelve refugee camps in which it works, UNRWA operates twenty-nine primary health care facilities and twenty-one dental clinics, serving the 95 percent of refugees who rely on the organization for health services.5 It also runs seventy- four primary schools - seventeen of which educate in double shifts - and in the process, provides employment to 2,785 residents.6 Indeed, as of 2006, UNRWA was the largest employer of legal, skilled Palestinian labor in Lebanon.7 The organization also assists extensively with infrastructure and building rehabilitation, in particular in the Nahr el Bared camp, which was largely destroyed in 2007 in a fierce battle between the Syrian-supported al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese Armed Forces.

In terms of its protection and advocacy responsibilities toward the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, however, UNRWA's record is decidedly less successful. The organization defines protection as what it does to "safeguard and advance the rights of Palestine refugees and thereby achieve its vision of every refugee 'feeling assured that his or her rights are being protected, defended and preserved.'"8 In practice, according to UNRWA, this means promoting respect for Palestinian rights with the host government or authority in control by "monitoring, reporting, and intervention."9

While UNRWA has issued reports about the conditions of the refugee camps, the organization's interventions with the Lebanese government - to the degree they have occurred - have not achieved many critical human rights for the refugees. Most significantly, until 2006, Palestinians' ability to work in Lebanon, an activity that the U.N.'s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes as a "right," was significantly curtailed.

The consequences of this failing have proved devastating. Today, according to UNRWA's own statistics, only about 53,000 of the approximately 120,000-strong Palestinian labor force are employed.10 In the south (i.e., Saida and Tyre), some 8 1 percent of all refugees live in "abject poverty."1! Overall, among the states in which UNRWA operates, Lebanon has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of "special-hardship cases," i.e., the poor of the poor, some 30 percent of the Palestinian population.12

Alongside international criticism, UNRWA has also been the target of much local dissatisfaction. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Palestinian Refugees Languish in Lebanon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.