Beirut: Lebanon`s parliament adopted on Tuesday a
law granting fuller employment rights to some 400,000
Palestinians in the country, revoking a ban that had barred
the refugees from tens of professions for years.
"Parliament approved a law amendment lifting former
restrictions on employment for Palestinian refugees, who will
now have the right to work in any field open to foreigners
with benefits including social security from their own
special fund," a senior official told AFP.
As other foreigners, Palestinians will not be able to
work as doctors or lawyers, or in the army and police force,
all reserved for Lebanese citizens.
Until now, the refugees have been limited in employment
opportunities, such as farming and construction.
But the thorny issue of the Palestinians is far from
resolved, as they continue to live off UN handouts in
destitute conditions in a dozen camps across the country and
are still deprived of health care, the right to own
property and the right to citizenship, among others.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates
Lebanon today houses 400,000 Palestinians, but Lebanese
officials estimate no more than 300,000 refugees actually
reside in the country as UNRWA does not strike off its lists
those who emigrate.
The majority of refugees live in camps that are armed to
the teeth and which international organizations warn provide
fertile grounds for breeding Islamist extremists.
Palestinian ambassador Abdullah Abdullah lauded today`s
move as "a progressive step forward" but said in a statement
that Palestinian leaders would continue to push for their
rights, primarily the right to own property.