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Palestinians in Lebanon working under precarious conditions

Restrictions in Lebanon do not exclude Palestinian refugees from the labour market but lead to exploitative conditions, a new ILO-EU study says.

News | 20 November 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) – Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon continue to find jobs despite legal and administrative hurdles, but face exploitative working conditions, according to an ILO-EU study.

Palestinians are paid 20 per cent less than Lebanese workers for performing the same work. Their average monthly income is below the Lebanese minimum wage of 675,000 LBP (US$ 450).

As most of Palestinians are poorly educated and lacking skills, they eke out a living as casual workers in low-paid jobs in commerce and construction.

Few of these workers have a proper employment contract and next to none have access to health coverage, paid and sick leave. Very few are entitled to a pension or end-of-service indemnity.

The situation is particularly difficult for Palestinian working women. They tend to be better educated than their male counterparts, but are still underrepresented in the workforce and receive lower salaries.

Up to 280,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps and 42 gatherings across Lebanon.

Legal amendments had no impact

In August 2010, the Lebanese Parliament amended labour and social security laws to facilitate the granting of work permits to Palestinians free of charge and to allow them to access end of service benefits.

However, fewer than 2 per cent of Palestinian refugees have acquired a work permit since 2010. Most are engaged in occupations that do not need work permits and many remain unaware of the procedures for regularizing their status.

What’s more, Lebanese law still prohibits Palestinians from practising syndicated professions and requires that Palestinians overpay for their pensions. Practical obstacles also persist to obtaining work permits.

The study of Palestinian refugees living in camps and gatherings in Lebanon was funded by the European Union within the framework of the ILO-EU project “Improving access to employment and social protection of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon”.

Read the full press release issued by ILO Beirut