Monday, December 07, 2009

Suffering "Palestinians" treated like dirt in Lebanon

From Al-Arabiya:
Saeed Mohamed Hammo technically does not exist as far as the world is concerned. But as he recounts his life as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, his story is very much real.

Hammo, 61, is among an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 so-called "non-ID Palestinians" in Lebanon who are considered illegal aliens and who have lived in legal limbo, many of them for decades.

They have no freedom of movement, no right to work and no access to medical services or education.

Lebanon recognizes as refugees only Palestinians who fled here following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

The majority of the non-ID Palestinians came to Lebanon in the 1970s following the events known as Black September, when Jordan kicked out the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and thousands of Palestinian fighters.

As such, they are not considered refugees by Lebanese authorities and have no official status.

"Non-ID Palestinians live in harsh conditions and are deprived of some of the most important and basic human rights," Mireille Chiha, of the Danish Refugee Council office in Beirut, told AFP.

"They have no freedom of movement, can't purchase a car or motorbike and they don't benefit from the services of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees," she added. "Even within the refugee camps, they are referred to as the 'ghareeb' or foreigner.

Jamileh Mohammed Salloum, 40, is Lebanese and married a non-ID Palestinian at the age of 18 without realizing the hardships that awaited her and the three children she would bear.

A Lebanese woman is legally not entitled to pass on her citizenship to her children or spouse.

"I never in my wildest dreams imagined that my children would have no rights and that my country would treat me like this," she said angrily. "Where are the human rights that everyone likes to talk about?

"My children don't even know Palestine, they are Lebanese."
Even though regular Palestinian Arab descendants of 1948 refugees have limited rights in Lebanon, the ones who were driven out of Jordan - the PLO heroes - are in even worse shape. This is an entirely Arab-created problem, of "Palestinians" who have never been in Palestine and whose troubles have been exclusively the result of Arab decisions.

Notice also that it appears likely that UNRWA's bizarre definition of "refugee" that inflates the number of real refugees from 1948 by a factor of 10 or so is now being used by Lebanon against the children of Jordanian "Palestinian" refugees from the 1970s. These children born in Lebanon should be Lebanese citizens by any definition - even UNRWA's - but the notion of descendants of Palestinian Arabs being "refugees" is so ingrained by the UN that thousands of people are suffering because of it.