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May 12, 2021 | 24 Pages | English | Dima Mahdi
Legal Limbo: Who is a Refugee in Lebanon?

Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. With approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees, alongside the nearly 200,000 Palestinian refugees and additional others from various nationalities, Lebanon has a long history of hosting people seeking refuge from conflict. Yet, despite this, the country’s authorities have been unwilling to recognize their refugee status or carry out their responsibilities in providing them with key rights, such as the right to seek asylum, human rights, freedom of movement, employment, education, healthcare, social security, and adequate standards of living, among others. Although Lebanon is not a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 protocols, the country is bound by other international and domestic legal frameworks which protect human rights. However, in practice, restrictive policies have pushed refugees away from attaining these rights. This policy brief examines the Lebanese government’s evasion of responsibility in granting refugees essential rights in Lebanon by reviewing relevant multilateral treaties that define refugees and their internationally recognized rights, as well as relevant national laws that Lebanon should abide by. This brief argues that, in practice, Syrian refugees are treated as migrant workers or as a security threat. It also advocates for the development of a legal framework for refugees in Lebanon and the enforcement of policies that are in line with international and national laws and agreements.

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