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Tens of thousands of workers trapped in highly abusive conditions

Lebanon’s restrictive and exploitative kafala (sponsorship) system traps tens of thousands of migrant domestic workers in highly abusive conditions amounting, at worst, to modern slavery. The law fails to protect the workers, and the establishment…
Protestors holding banners calling for the abolishment of Lebanon's controversial kafala sponsorship system.
News
Shortly after Denmark began telling Syrian refugees that parts of Syria are "safe" and stripped them of their temporary protected status, I talked to a 31-year-old refugee who voluntarily returned to Syria from Jordan in December 2020. He told me…
A streetview of destroyed buildings in a city
News
In early April, about 400 foreign employees of RAMCO, a Lebanese construction, facility, and waste management company, went on strike to demand payment in US dollars and better working conditions. The strike, believed to be the first of its kind among…
202006mena_leb_migrantworkers
News

From bad to worse

    Hardly anyone in Lebanon has been left unscathed by the economic crisis, the worst since the end of the civil war in 1990. Its impact has been most devastating on communities already marginalized prior to the crisis. The…
Migrant workers protest in Beirut, Lebanon.
News

Dismantled Shelters is One of Many Push Factors Syrian Refugees Face

I met then-two-year-old Jana and her family this past June as I was passing by their shelter in the ibn Waleed camp in Arsal, Lebanon. Jana’s mom, Badoor, came up to me, holding Jana in her arms. “Please come inside, my daughter is sick…
A partially dismantled shelter in a Syrian refugee camp in Arsal, Lebanon, June 20, 2019.
News
Following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he wanted “to make the Mediterranean a chance and not a fear.” But does he mean Europeans’ fears of foreigners,…
Migrants are seen onboard the charity ship Lifeline at Boiler Wharf in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta June 27, 2018.
News

Lebanon cannot force returns without contravening international law

In the past month, Lebanon has seen a number of troubling developments regarding the presence of Syrian refugees, with leading politicians heightening calls for the return of refugees to Syria and making unfounded accusations of an…
Syrian refugees prepare to return to Syria from the Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon, June 28, 2018. © 2018 Reuters
News
After almost three months of jumping up and down in place, the newly invested Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has hit the ground running in the worst possible direction. The head of the anti-immigrant party, the League, Salvini has…
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini arrives at the Republic Day military parade in Rome, Italy, June 2, 2018.
News
  Some politicians in Lebanon, host to the world’s largest per capita refugee population, are looking for signs that it may be safe for Syrian refugees to go home, even as the violence there continues.  Seven years into the Syria…
Bar Elias, a town in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, has become home to Syrian refugees who were evicted from the Rayak air base, and have settled here in informal encampments.
News

Italian judge’s releases rescue ship but upholds legal fiction of Libyan search and rescue zone. Judith Sunderland from Human Rights Watch explains why the contradiction matters.

WE MAY NEED to curb our enthusiasm over an Italian judge’s April 16 decision to release the rescue ship Open Arms, operated by the Spanish group Proactiva, which Italy impounded a month ago. Although the Open Arms may soon sail again and…
A rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) approaches the MV Open Arms, the search and rescue ship of Proactiva Open Arms, in the central Mediterranean off the coast of Libya, December 16, 2017
News
  Italian politics are never boring, and election campaigns are always times of particularly strident debate. But the tenor of the campaign leading up to Italy’s national elections on March 4 on immigration issues is profoundly alarming. In…
Demonstrators stand on a balcony during an anti-racism rally in Macerata, Italy, February 10, 2018. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
News
A new residency policy announced last month waiving hefty residency fees for some Syrian refugees in Lebanon is a step forward for many people desperate for a secure legal status here. But it leaves many others out in the cold. Lebanon…
A General Security officer stands by as a Syrian bus driver carries the passports and departure cards of Syrians arriving in Lebanon.
News
Amin, 18, became a refugee when his family fled Syria for Lebanon five years ago. He has not set foot in school since. With his father unable to get legal status or work, responsibility for supporting the family of seven fell to Amin. A seventh grader…
Fahd, 15, originally from Syria, is not in school. Instead, he works in construction in the Bekaa Valley.
News
Europeans who want to see a better future for Syrian refugee children can be proud: the European Union has given hundreds of millions of euros to help them go to school in the beleaguered countries near Syria. But good luck tracking where that…
Wa’el, 13, and Fouad, 7, originally from Idlib, study outside their home in Jounieh. Their mother, Kawthar, 33, struggled to enroll them in school, and eventually withdrew them due to concerns about the quality of education and transportation costs of US$
News
“We can’t afford to put them in school here. All my children were studying in Syria, but if I would put them in school here, how would I live?” “Muna,” 45, and her family live across the street from a school in Mount Lebanon, but her children, “Yousef,”…
Syrian refugee children sit in a classroom in a non-formal school in the Bekaa Valley.