The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) launches its newest report titled ‘The “Forgotten People”: Assessing Poverty Among Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon”. This report focuses on the socio-economic conditions of Palestinian refugees currently residing in Lebanon.
In order to produce a more nuanced evaluation of poverty among Palestinian refugees a multi-dimensional approach was used. This approach includes assessment of economic status, food security, health conditions, education and housing and living conditions. At the same time, legal restrictions imposed by the Lebanese government are discussed as they present a fundamental reason causing poverty.
This report distinguishes between Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (PRL) and Palestinian refugees from Syria (PRS) that now live in Lebanon. The conflict in Syria can be considered to have added a new dimension to the already critical conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Among PRL, 160’000 people are considered poor or extremely poor, that is two-thirds of the total refugees in Lebanon. Similarly, two-thirds of PRL are considered to be food insecure. Poverty and food insecurity are significantly correlated and most poor and extreme poor experience some degree of food insecurity. A third of PRL is estimated to have a chronic illness and 4% a functional disability. In terms of education, it has to be emphasised the rising percentage of early school dropout. This severely affects refugee’s chances of employment, which are already reduced due to legal restrictions, which consequently increases levels of poverty. Poor quality housing continues to be a problem in communities where most Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon. A staggering 40% of households have water leaking through their roof as well as other issues.
It is estimated almost 45,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria are now living in Lebanon. PRS suffer from the same legal restrictions of PRL as well as specific restrictions that apply only to them. For instance the Lebanese government has placed new requirements that in essence deny PRS the ability to renew their temporary residency visas, leaving them without a clear legal status in the country and risk of arrest and deportation. PRS’s economic status is extremely critical, as almost 90% of families lack an income. Food security is also a major issue; two thirds of families are not able to provide three meals a day. Almost 50% of PRS families have at least one member suffering from a chronic condition. The harsh winter in Lebanon is likely to worsen the vulnerability of PRS. As of 2015, 74% of families have at least one child who is not attending school, and many children have witnessed horrible violence in Syria. The two main concerns with housing is that PRS live in extremely overcrowded environments as well as having to pay high rents, which most families cannot afford.
In the last section of the report it is discussed issues pertaining to the Lebanese discrimination of Palestinians and UNRWA’s chronic funding problem. Lastly, recommendation for professionals and policy makers are provided as the ambition of this report is not only to be an informative source but also to shape policy directed at Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.