UK medical journal The Lancet has published a series of abstracts drawn from a meeting of public health researchers, The Lancet-Palestine Health Alliance, in Beirut in March 2012.Of course, The Lancet refuses to say the obvious: it is the artificial classification these people as "refugees" - even though the vast majority were born in Lebanon - that is the cause of their problems. If children born in Lebanon would have been made citizens, they would not be discriminated against and would not be forced to live in squalid camps that Lebanon refuses to allow to grow.
According to one of the studies, by researchers from the American University of Beirut, “discriminatory laws and decades of marginalisation” have left Palestinian refugees in Lebanon socially, politically and economically disadvantaged. Over half of them live in increasingly overcrowded camps, where “the provision of housing, water, electricity, refuse and other services are inadequate and contribute to poor health”.
Out of 2,500 households surveyed, 42 percent had water leaking from their walls or roofs, and 8 percent lived in homes made of dangerous building materials such as asbestos.
Hoda Samra, a spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon, said many refugees live in shelters lacking ventilation and daylight. While about 5,000 shelters are in need of rehabilitation, the agency has funding to repair only 730. Samra added that there is also a lack of funding to address rundown infrastructure in four out of 12 of the camps.
Camp populations continue to grow but the land allocated for them has not; the resulting overcrowding has exacerbated public health problems.
“Some of the camps are growing vertically but not horizontally,” said Samra, noting that many of the structures were built haphazardly, too close together and without proper foundations.
The study found a direct correlation between poor housing conditions and poor health among respondents; 31 percent had chronic illnesses and 24 percent had experienced acute illnesses in the previous six months.
The researchers also found a strong link between poverty and ill health. Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are ineligible for social services, including healthcare, and they are banned from some 50 professions. UNRWA and the International Labour Organization have lobbied the Lebanese government to ease employment restrictions, but amendments to labour legislation enacted in August 2010, which would make it easier for refugees to secure work permits, are still awaiting an implementation decree from the Department of Labour.
According to another study in The Lancet series, also by researchers from the University of Beirut, 59 percent of refugee households live below the national poverty line; 63 percent reported some food insecurity, while 13 percent were severely food insecure. Only the poorest - about 13 percent - qualify for food rations and small cash grants from UNRWA.
The combination of poor nutrition, unhealthy living conditions and feelings of hopelessness breed "all kinds of illnesses", said Samra. ...
"When taken together,” writes Lancet editor Horton, “these data expose the hidden crisis facing Palestinian refugees, whose health needs have been sorely neglected.”
But saying such obvious truths in the Arab world is not allowed. Indeed, the only reason they are suffering today as a separate class of Arabs in Lebanon is because the Arab League wants to use these faux "refugees" as a means to pressure Israel.
So Palestinian Arabs, and only Palestinian Arabs, have a special status in the Arab world of being permanently stateless with no recourse. The Arab world - and especially Lebanon - is wholly to blame for their situation today, but "human rights organizations" refuse to say so. Because the Arabs blame Israel for six and a half decades of apartheid against Palestinians, so must the rest of the world.