Palestinians Face Employment Discrimination in Lebanon

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Abu Yussif is a pharmacist. But the massive discrimination against Palestinians in the Lebanese labor market has forced him to give up his profession and work as a taxi driver.

Despite their residence in Lebanon, the approximately 250,000 Palestinian refugees are treated sometimes worse than foreigners. Access to jobs is restricted in various ways. Some professions are forbidden, many others require a work permit. In addition, approximately 30 liberal professions are controlled by syndicates. Further, Palestinians can’t run their own shops or companies, as they’re not allowed to own property.

Palestinian refugees and their descendants have been living in Lebanon for 62 years. Unlike their relatives in Jordan or Syria, they face massive legal discrimination. Lebanon is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but it has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and embodies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its constitution.

Professional syndicates in Lebanon systematically deny Palestinians access. Sari Hanafi, associate professor at the American University of Beirut, explains: “Some of them have bylaws that restrict membership to Lebanese citizens. Others apply a reciprocity clause. However, the absence of a recognized Palestinian state makes the application of this principle impossible.”

In mid-August, the Lebanese parliament amended the Labor Law. It hasn’t touched the powerful position of the syndicates, however. Suhail al-Natour says that in theory the law is supposed to be above the syndicates’ rules. “Practically, however, the syndicates rule.”

Title: Despite law “reform,” Palestinians out of work in Lebanon
Author: Ray Smith
Publication Source: The Electronic Intifada,  22 November 2010

Faculty Evaluator: Jeff Baldwin, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Accacia Downer, Sonoma State University