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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

15 years of restrictions on construction in Lebanese PalArab camps

On January 1, 1997, the Lebanese government put into effect regulations that severely restrict bringing construction materials into Palestinian Arab camps in southern Lebanon.

For fifteen years, these camp residents who live in already dilapidated houses have had almost no recourse to repair it.

And for fifteen years, as the population in the camps grew, no new housing has been built.

The restrictions were lifted in 2004 but then reinstated in 2006, adding a new camp to the regulation.In theory there is a lengthy bureaucratic process through which building in the camps could be authorized, but in fact it hardly ever gets approved. People building without a permit are subject to arrest.

UNRWA downplays the issue:
There are no legal restrictions in place regarding the transportation of construction materials into Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Restrictions, when they exist, function on an administrative basis and only apply to camps in the south of the country and to Nahr el-Bared. Camp dwellers have to apply for a permit, to be granted by the Army. However, in some camps, it seems that smuggling of construction material is rife.

Not only that, but in 2001 Lebanon passed a law outlawing Palestinian Arabs from purchasing land or for transferring land they already owned to their children, so the little amount of land  that Palestinian Arabs do own  in Lebanon is disappearing as the owners die.

You will be hard-pressed to find anyone calling to boycott Lebanon, a country that discriminates so egregiously against its Palestinian population. You will not find UNRWA reports condemning Lebanon for its planned policy of discrimination and marginalization of its Palestinian population.

The 15th anniversary of these regulations is coming up. Good luck reading about this anniversary in any English-language media besides here.