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Lebanon

Lebanon

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Program commenced:   1998

Total number of placements: 37 (as of 3 August, 2011)

Number of current placements: 4 (as of 3 August, 2011)

AVI Programs: Volunteer Program

Lebanon is a small country on the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Syria and Israel. After the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, Lebanon became home to an estimated 100,000 Palestinian refugees. Since then that figure has grown and is estimated at over 400,000, and Lebanon also hosts Iraqi refugees and has a significant population of internally displaced people.

The country has suffered through decades of civil war that ended in the early 1990s. Internal conflicts in and out of the refugee camps have continued to destabilise the small country once considered the Paris of the Middle East.

AVI's program in Lebanon focuses on refugee and displaced communities. We are working with partner NGOs, INGOs and agencies working with Palestinian communities in Lebanon.

Contact our Middle East program office.

Development issues

Poverty and employment
Government restrictions
Access to services - education and health
Psychosocial welfare

Poverty and employment

Poverty in Lebanon, in particular amongst refugee communities, remains a significant obstacle to human development. Palestinian communities are unable to find stable, secure employment. Access to legal employment by Palestinians is controlled by a permit system and they are banned altogether from certain professional categories of work.

Government restrictions

The Lebanese government's attitude to Palestinians living within its borders is conditioned by a desire for a final peace settlement that will see the refugees returned to either Israel or the Palestinian Territories. Thus, while some relief work is permitted, consecutive Lebanese governments have opposed policies that seek to facilitate permanent Palestinian integration in Lebanon.

Palestinians do not have the right to participate directly in national elections, and channel political participation through their support for and engagement with the political arms of Palestinian groups active within the camps.

Access to services - education and health

The status of Palestinians as non-citizens excludes them - unlike in Syria and Jordan - from public health, education and social services. These services are instead provided in a limited way by the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and NGOs.

Psychosocial welfare

All refugee communities are exposed to significant mental health risks, and for Palestinian refugee communities in Lebanon the impact of almost 60 years of living 'in limbo' has been a significant decline in psychosocial health. Added to this rising poverty, societal disparity, marginalisation, conflict, and a lack of education, such a decline has manifested in the increasing prevalence of learning difficulties, rising crime and suicide rates, and growing risk behaviours. Counselling, social work and youth work, and the provision of 'life skills' programs are not common, and professional expertise in this sector is low.