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Fears of Social, Security Explosion as 80% of Palestinians in Lebanon are Jobless

Fears of Social, Security Explosion as 80% of Palestinians in Lebanon are Jobless

Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 - 10:15
People walk along a street covered with electricity cables at Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut. (Reuters)
Beirut - Paula Astih

The story of Mohammed, 42, a Palestinian refugee living in the Ain el-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon, is that of many refugees who have lost their jobs as a result of the financial and economic crisis stifling the country.

For several years, Mohammed, who is the head of a family of six, used to work in construction outside the camp and earning LBP 35,000 a day (about USD 23 based on the official exchange rate).

However, with the deterioration of the situation at the end of 2019, his work was limited to two days a week and now, he is merely working twice per month. In an attempt to secure an alternative income, he has built a small vehicle from available material, to collect tin, plastic, glass and other unwanted items and sell them at the end of day at LBP 15,000-20,000.

Mohammed told Asharq Al-Awsat that luck is not always on his side and he and his children often sleep with an empty stomach.

In the past years, unemployment rate in the Palestinian camps reached 60 percent. But sources in the Fatah movement confirmed that it has currently exceeded 80 percent.

Most of the refugees working in construction and agriculture and as cleaners have lost their jobs due to the crisis, the sources said.

Moreover, about 30 percent of Palestinian families in Lebanon rely on remittances sent by their children living abroad. But the recent banking procedures have affected this process, as the value of transfers decreased due to the collapse of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar and the central bank’s decision to give the money to their owners in the local currency.

The secretary of the Fatah movement and the Palestinian Liberation Organization factions in Lebanon, Fathi Abu al-Ardat, called on the UNRWA and the international community to declare a state of emergency for the relief of the refugees who are suffering from extreme poverty.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that UNRWA granted nearly a month ago to every refugee registered on its lists an amount of LBP 112,000, explaining that the camp authorities insisted that this amount be distributed on a monthly basis, “but we have received no commitments in this regard.”

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