Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lebanon gives Palestinian refugees the right to work

The Lebanese government makes a small step towards progress.

'Lebanon's parliament adopted on Tuesday a law granting fuller employment rights to some 400,000 Palestinians in the country, revoking a ban that had barred the refugees from tens of professions for years.

"Parliament approved a law amendment lifting former restrictions on employment for Palestinian refugees, who will now have the right to work in any field open to foreigners with benefits including social security from their own special fund," a senior official told AFP.

As other foreigners, Palestinians will not be able to work as doctors or lawyers, or in the army and police force, all reserved for Lebanese citizens.

Until now, the refugees have been limited in employment opportunities, such as farming and construction.

But the thorny issue of the Palestinians is far from resolved, as they continue to live off UN handouts in destitute conditions in a dozen camps across the country and are still deprived of health care, the right to own property and the right to citizenship, among others.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates Lebanon today houses 400,000 Palestinians, but Lebanese officials estimate no more than 300,000 refugees actually reside in the country as UNRWA does not strike off its lists those who emigrate.

The majority of refugees live in camps that are armed to the teeth and which international organisations warn provide fertile grounds for breeding Islamist extremists.'

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