ILO and UNRWA statement on socio-economic rights of Palestinians in Lebanon

18 August 2010

18 August 2010

ILO and UNRWA statement on socio-economic rights of Palestinians in LebanonThe International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) welcome the developments in parliament yesterday regarding the socio-economic rights of Palestinians.

The amendments to the labour and social security laws present several positive outcomes, notably the lifting of the reciprocity injunction and the legislative removal of obstacles for registered Palestinian refugees to obtain work permits. Equally importantly, registered Palestinian refugees will be able to receive end-of-service benefits through the Lebanese Social Security fund to which employers are contributing on their behalf.

ILO and UNRWA look forward to the practical application of these new entitlements under the leadership of the Lebanese Ministry of Labour.

Nada Al-Nashif, Regional Director of ILO, stated: “This endorsement of the universal right to work by Lebanese legislators is an important breakthrough. It reaffirms Lebanon’s commitment to social justice and decent work for all.”

Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs, stated: “These amendments are an important step in the right direction. The positive momentum generated by yesterday’s outcome can only serve to strengthen UNRWA’s commitment to serve the refugees in Lebanon to the best of our abilities, for the benefit of Palestinians and Lebanese alike.”

ILO and UNRWA note that these changes, although crucial, will need to be complemented by further steps to lift Palestinians out of poverty. We therefore call for the continued support of the international community and the Lebanese authorities in tackling the ongoing challenges in order to allow Palestinians to live and work in dignity.

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For further information, please contact ILO on 01-752400 (ext 108) and UNRWA on 01-840468

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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