Palestinian refugees seek immigration, find Australia most welcoming country

A picture taken on March 24, 2015 shows a general view of the Jalazon refugee camp north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, with the Jewish settlement of Bet El in the background. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Palestinian refugees seek immigration, find Australia most welcoming country

  • Palestinian leaders estimate that there are 240,000 refugees in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Activists in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have staged their third sit-in on Wednesday to demand immigration to a third country.
The participants, who gathered at the Martyrs’ Square in the center of Beirut, carried the flags of Palestine, Canada, European nations and Australia, in reference to their demand that these countries open their doors to Palestinian immigrants.
In the absence of accurate figures by embassies on the number of Palestinian refugees who have applied for immigration from Lebanon and been accepted, the Lebanese General Security remains the one monitoring the refugees who leave Lebanese territory by air and do not return after more than a month, said a Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) source.
The source told Arab News: “We have been monitoring this phenomenon for some time and noticed that it has recently increased.”
Wednesday’s sit-in, in which hundreds of people took part, has come after two sit-ins organized by the Palestinian Youth Organization outside the Canadian Embassy in Lebanon.
One of participants said: “Life in Lebanon has become very difficult for us — we can no longer bear it. UNRWA has curtailed its services, and Lebanon prevents us from working. How can we live?”
Lebanon’s labor minister had launched a plan to combat foreign workers, targeting Palestinian and Syrian refugees. This led to a campaign of mass protests in Palestinian camps. Communication intensified between the leaders in the Palestinian camps and the Lebanese side to contain the repercussions of the decision.
Hamas representative in Lebanon, Dr. Ahmed Abdel Hadi, believed that “what is happening is not innocent.”
He told Arab News: “There is economic, security, political and social pressure on the Palestinian people, in addition to the absence of civil rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, giving our people a tragic life.”

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240 k - Palestinian refugees are in Lebanon, according to estimates by Palestinians leaders.

“There are no job opportunities for university graduates, nor can they afford education, medicine and even a life,” he said.
“Refugee homes in the camps are ramshackle and need maintenance. There are also overcrowded houses because the Lebanese authorities prevented the entry of building materials into the camps. All of this makes a Palestinian refugee wonder what he can do in the future.”
Abdel Hadi said that these pressures coincide with talks about the deal of the century and ending the asylum issue. He asked: “Why is there interest in this matter now? And why are there so many protests? Is the goal to put refugees in this tragic situation? Are embassies being pressured to accept refugees? And why is Australia accepting so many refugees?”
The Hamas official refused to give any statistics on the number of refugees who have recently left Lebanon and the truth behind talks that the camps have been emptied, but he revealed to Arab News that “entire families have left Lebanon and immigrated.”
He highlighted that Australia is currently the most welcoming country for Palestinian refugees. “There are families whose immigration applications have been accepted, and they have traveled. There are also individuals whose applications have been accepted, and they traveled in the hope of getting reunited with their families.”
Abdel Hadi highlighted that “the Nordic countries received in previous years a large number of Palestinian refugee families from Lebanon, but Australia is now the new destination.”
He refused to blame the Palestinian refugees for “emigration in search of a dignified life,” stressing that “the Palestinian leaders should uphold the right of return and coordinate with our brothers in Lebanon to face the resettlement and displacement project.”
The latest statistics implemented by the Lebanese and Palestinian authorities in the Palestinian refugee camps showed that there are only 174,422 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Palestinian leaders estimate that there are 240,000 refugees in Lebanon.


Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

Lebanese anti-government protesters flash victory signs as they head to the south of Lebanon on a 'revolution' bus from central Beirut on November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

  • The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest

BEIRUT: A Lebanese “revolution bus” traveling from north to south to unite protesters was halted by troops outside the city of Sidon on Saturday.
The army set up a road block to prevent the bus and a large protest convoy entering Sidon, the third-largest city in the country.
Local media said that the decision had been made to defuse tensions in the area following widespread protests.
Lebanese troops blocked the Beirut-South highway at the Jiyeh-Rumailah checkpoint over “security concerns,” a military source told Arab News.
“Some people in Sidon objected to the crossing of the bus and we feared that problems may take place,” the source added.
A protester in Ilya Square in Sidon said: “Those who do not want the bus to enter Sidon should simply leave the square because there are many who want to welcome the bus.”
The army allowed the bus to enter the town of Rumailah, 2 km from Sidon. “The bus will stop here after nightfall because of security fears and the risk of an accident,” the military source said.
The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest.
Activists said the protest bus “is spreading the idea of a peaceful revolution by unifying the people.”
“The pain is the same from the far north of Lebanon to the south and the only flag raised is the Lebanese flag,” one activist said.
Organizers of the protest convoy rejected claims that the cities of Sidon, Nabatieh and Tyre were reluctant to welcome the bus, and voiced their respect for the Lebanese army decision.

After leaving Akkar the bus passed through squares that witnessed protests in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil, Zouk Mosbeh, Jal El Dib and Beirut. Protesters chanted “Revolution” and lined the route of the convoy, turning it into a “procession of the revolution.”
The bus paused in Khalde, where the first victim of the protests, Alaa Abu Fakhr, was shot and killed a few days ago by a Lebanese soldier. The victim’s widow and family welcomed the convoy and protesters laid wreaths at the site of the shooting.
Activists’ tweets on Saturday claimed that life in Beirut’s southern suburbs is as difficult as in other areas of Lebanon.
“As a Shiite girl living in the heart of the southern suburbs, I deny that we are living well and not suffering. We are in a worse position than the rest of the regions,” said an activist who called herself Ruanovsky.
“No one is doing well,” said Wissam Abdallah. “The suburbs have external security and safety, but unfortunately there is a lot of corruption. There are forged car van plates, motorcycle mafia, Internet and satellite mafia, royalties mafia, and hashish and drugs mafia. Municipalities have to deal with these things as soon as possible.”