Of the 469,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, an estimated 270,000 currently reside in Lebanon (see American University of Beirut (AUB) and UNRWA, Survey on the Socioeconomic Status of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon of 2015 ), many of whom are excluded from key facets of social, political and economic life. Palestine refugees face legal restrictions that limit their rights, including the prohibition to work in 39 professions and to own property, as well as their access to state-provided services such as health and education.
Over 32,000 Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) are also currently recorded with UNRWA in Lebanon. Since August 2013, the access to Lebanese territory of PRS has become more difficult and since May 2014 they have only been allowed to enter the country in limited circumstances, making it extremely difficult for most PRS to enter the country to seek safety from the conflict in Syria. Furthermore, the majority of PRS already in Lebanon rely heavily on UNRWA services and may face specific protection risks related to their displacement and the difficulty to regularize and/or maintain a valid legal status in the country.
This complex situation leads to wide-reaching protection challenges for PRS including restricted access to civil documentation (e.g. marriage certificates and birth registration), curtailed freedom of movement, increased vulnerability to abuse and exploitation, and limited access to specialized services including in health and education.
Prior to the Syria crisis, Palestine refugee camp populations were amongst the most vulnerable populations in Lebanon. Those camps now hosting PRS and Syrian refugees, in addition to Palestine refugees already living in Lebanon, face additional difficulties such as increased rents, downward pressure on wages and increasing strain on camp infrastructure. The traditional social network in camps has been significantly challenged by the influx of refugees, leading to an increase in internal tensions.
In Lebanon, the UNRWA protection response focuses on providing assistance to those most in need through a multi-dimensional approach, which includes: the identification and referral of vulnerable individuals facing protection risks; the coordination and delivery of mental health and psychosocial support services; access to case management and psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence; child protection; protection mainstreaming; monitoring and reporting on cross-border movements; and engagement with duty bearers to advocate for Palestine refugees’ rights. In 2017, the UNRWA protection team in Lebanon identified and assisted more than 650 Palestine refugees facing protection risks and engaged in over 100 advocacy briefings and visits. The Legal Aid Unit provided legal services, including legal awareness, legal assistance, legal counselling and referral to legal representation through external legal aid partners, to over 6,500 Palestine refugees and PRS.
*Last updated: March 2018