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.


Libya cease-fire talks in ‘right direction,’ says UN envoy

Forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar patrol in Sebha city in southern Libya. (AFP)
Updated 8 min 1 sec ago

Libya cease-fire talks in ‘right direction,’ says UN envoy

  • The country has been mired in chaos since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the killing of longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli in April

GENEVA / MOSCOW: Cease-fire talks between Libya’s warring sides are going in the “right direction” while hitting hurdles over violations of an arms embargo and a truce declared last month, the UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame told Reuters on Friday.
Salame, in an interview during a break in military talks in Geneva, said that he expected political-level talks to convene in the Swiss city on Feb. 26 but was already working on confidence-building measures.
“In parallel we are trying to make air travel a bit safer in Libya especially from Mitiga as well as Misrata. We are also trying to reopen the port to be a safe harbor,” Salame said. “And we are also trying ... to help in an exchange of prisoners between the parties.”
A day earlier, Salame had said that his mission to secure a lasting cease-fire and eventually a political solution was “very difficult” but “possible.”

Haftar warns Turkey
Libya’s eastern commander, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, vowed on Friday to fight Turkish forces if peace talks in Geneva failed, in comments to a Russian news agency.
The eastern military commander, who is backed by Russia, gave the interview to RIA Novosti after meeting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday.
“If talks in Geneva do not achieve peace and security for our country, if mercenaries do not return to where they were brought from, the armed forces will fulfill their constitutional obligations ... to defend against the Turkish Ottoman invaders,” Haftar said in translated comments.
Talks between the warring parties in Geneva ended earlier this month with no result.

If talks in Geneva do not achieve peace and security for our country, the armed forces will fulfill their constitutional obligations ... to defend against the Turkish Ottoman invaders.

Gen. Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s eastern commander

A second round began Tuesday, but broke down after rocket fire hit a port in Tripoli. Talks then resumed Thursday.
The country has been mired in chaos since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the killing of longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli in April.
Turkey supports the UN-recognized government in Tripoli led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, with whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in November signed a deal on security, maritime and military cooperation.
“As we’ve said, our patience is at the limit due to the regular violations of the cease-fire by groups of fighters hired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Libyan Prime Minister Sarraj,” Haftar said, accusing them of failing to fulfill promises they made in Berlin.
At a Berlin summit last month, countries including Russia, Turkey, France and Egypt agreed to end foreign interference in Libya and respect a UN arms embargo.
Haftar added that his forces “are assessing the situation in Tripoli, are in contact with the international sides and are ready for all options.”
Moscow and Ankara together brokered a tenuous truce in Libya last month. The two sides agreed to end fighting, but the cease-fire has been violated.
Haftar said Friday that his conditions for a cease-fire were “withdrawal of Syria and Turkish mercenaries, Turkey stopping supplies of weapons to Tripoli and the liquidation of terrorist groups.”