December 26, 2012
This article was actually published in September, but I just came across it now. I can’t vouch for its integrity (certainly references to Israel can be ignored – it was published by Electronic Intifada, after all) but a second article seems to back up the general gist of it.
The article describes the discrimination Palestinians face when they flee Syria and look for refuge in Lebanon:
“If I wasn’t running for my life I would never set foot in Lebanon,” said Um Ahmad. “We Palestinians are treated by the Lebanese as if we are not human.”
…The UN refugee agency UNHCR recently published estimates that 43,760 Syrian refugees have taken shelter in Lebanon since last year. The Lebanese government has a flexible entry policy for Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon. A Syrian refugee is allowed to enter Lebanon without entry fees and can stay for a period of six months, or longer, subject to renewal.
But the situation changes when a Palestinian refugee is fleeing the same precarious circumstances and areas as Syrian nationals.
Palestinian refugees fleeing to Lebanon from Syria are only permitted to stay for one week; after that, they have to renew their permits which cost $33 for each person above the age of 10. The fee, as little as it may be, is difficult to come up with in a place like Lebanon where Palestinians are banned from work…
But according to Um Ahmad, that’s not all:
“When we went to renew our one week permit from the Lebanese authorities, we were told there is no renewal for Palestinians. The Lebanese authorities informed us that when we exit Lebanon we will have to pay $33 because we stayed more than the one week period they gave us upon entry. Until now they have refused to renew our permit to stay in Lebanon as refugees.["]
Another Palestinian stated,
“There is a big shortcoming from the UNRWA, and the UNHCR, they have been invisible,” Debsi said. “There are Syrian families taking shelter at a public school: last week they received a complete aid portion and pocket money from an NGO but we were overlooked. I was refused aid, because I’m Palestinian. Clearly it’s discrimination against us, but we still cannot figure out why[...]“
And still another Palestinian said,
“Our one demand for the Lebanese authorities is to treat the Palestinians escaping from Syria just as they treat the Syrians fleeing to Lebanon. The Syrian is allowed to work, stay for six months for free, and it’s renewable. Why is this not the case for Palestinians?”
“With regard to the Syrian issue we are being punished because we didn’t take sides and decided to stay out of the conflict. We learned from our bitter past not to get involved in internal Lebanese politics and conflicts. There are two main camps who are giving aid at the moment: the 14 March camp led by the Future party and the 8 March camp led by Hizballah, and we know in order for us to get aid we have to submit to the politics of these parties; we don’t want to affiliate with them. We know that once we sell ourselves to a political camp we will get aid, but it will come with a price.
Where are all the Palestinians’ good friends now?
The Iranians are investing millions in nuclear weapons with which to obliterate Israel, supposedly to avenge the Palestinians – but Iran isn’t contributing a penny to apolitical, homeless, hungry Palestinian refugees of the Syrian conflict
And where is Saudi Arabia? And Egypt? And Qatar? And Venezuela? And the Gaza flotilla activists? And all the others, including the US and Europe, who jump to condemn Israel for building homes in the so-called settlements? What happened to their concern for Palestinian rights?