Thursday, May 3, 2007
by Dahr Jamail
"......The Popular Aid for Relief and Development (PARD), which began working in the early 1980s before registering as an official NGO with the Lebanese government in 1990, has taken it upon itself to provide environmental services, health education, medical services and community development centers for refugees......
This policy is not just an ideal but a necessity for Palestinian refugees who now comprise at least 10 percent of the Lebanese population of four million, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).......
The need for support to the refugees has become increasingly well recognized among concerned groups. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not have social or civil rights, and only limited access to public health and educational services. Considered foreigners, Palestinian refugees are prohibited by law from working in at least 70 trades and professions.
This has led to a very high rate of unemployment amongst the refugee population. A Palestinian refugee in Lebanon still needs a work permit, valid for a maximum of two years.
The refugees are now the poorest section of Lebanese society, and are the poorest group of Palestinian refugees in any Arab country. The Israeli government refuses to repatriate them. Some refugees have been in Lebanon since 1948, the year the state of Israel was created in Palestine.
PARD has found itself campaigning for rights, besides providing services. "We do advocacy work for labor and civil rights of people because Palestinians cannot work here," said Halimeh......."