Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Blog

In light of Congressional moves to strip refugee status away from most Palestinians, it’s important to look at the current situation of the Palestinian diaspora. A recent report by American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) documents the plight of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, who must bear the worst refugee conditions in the region.

The ANERA report highlights the “discrimination, isolation, poverty, joblessness, poor housing and a lack of proper schools, clinics, hospitals and sewage systems as problems affecting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.”

Lebanon is home to approximately 300,000 Palestinian refugees, and since the country is not a signatory of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, it is not obligated to provide the basic rights and opportunities that the convention stipulates. As s a result, the majority of refugees are deeply impoverished and depend on agencies such as UNRWA to provide basic necessities, education, and workforce training.

The combination of disenfranchisement and poverty has been, unsurprisingly, explosive. Recent fighting in the Nahr El-Bared camp – the scene of a deadly military confrontation in 2007 – has rekindled concerns that the uneasy equilibrium in the camps could be tipped by spillover from the Syrian conflict.

Part of the problem stems from Lebanon’s continuing identity crisis and the political calculus around the concept of tawtin (naturalization) for the Palestinian refugee community. But it is also partly due to the active unwillingness of international actors – the United States included – to address the growing humanitarian crisis among Palestinian refugees. The exile community and its long-held “right of return” is a thorny issue in Arab Israeli negotiations, but ignoring the problem, or pretending that it doesn’t exist, will do little to address the sources of the discontent, radicalization, and structural instability that this limbo has produced within the Palestinian community.

Click here to read the full ANERA report in Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon.

comments powered by Disqus