August 19, 2010 - 12:00am

The United Nations on Wednesday hailed a Lebanese decision to lift an employment ban on Palestinian refugees in the country.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA and the International Labor Office (ILO) said in a joint statement distributed to the press that the Lebanese move represents "an important step in the right direction."

"This endorsement of the universal right to work by Lebanese legislators is an important breakthrough," added the statement.

"It reaffirms Lebanon's commitment to social justice and decent work for all," it stressed.

The Lebanese Parliament on Tuesday passed an proposal for the amendment of its 1946 Labor Law, granting the country's 400,000- plus Palestinian refugees the right to work in the same professions as other foreigners.

The decision follows a month of intense debates over the scope and applicability of the law, which lifts a ban that restricted the refugees to menial jobs in Lebanon.

According to UNRWA, 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees are scattered across the Middle East -- living in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

Lebanon is the only country that denies the civil rights of refugees. Under Lebanese law, Palestinian refugees were barred almost entirely from the labor market and are denied social welfare, making most of them live in poverty.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017